CG/BUR(21)9
2 December 2011

Information Report on the test on E-voting in the framework of local elections in Norway on 12 September 2011

Document submitted for information to the Bureau of the Congress on 2 December 2011
Document soumis pour information au Bureau du Congrès le 2 décembre 2011

Introduction

    1. Further to the invitation from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, the central election authority in Norway, of 12 July 2011, Congress President Keith Whitmore, in consultation with the Presidents of the two Congress Chambers, decided to deploy a targeted political assessment team composed of two Congress members plus one staff representative to follow the local elections in Norway on 12 September 2011, and in particular a pilot project on new voting technologies carried out in 10 municipalities.

    2. The mission was carried out from 9 to 13 September 2011. Mr Nigel MERMAGEN, United Kingdom (L, ILDG) and Mr Devrim CUKUR, Turkey (R, SOC) were members of this delegation.

    3. During its visit the delegation participated in the Norwegian E-vote 2011 Conference, organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development on 11 September in Oslo. Both Norwegian and international speakers attended this conference prior to Election Day. Already on 10 September, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development organised an Information Session for Election Observers. On the eve of Election Day, the Congress delegation participated also in the Decryption and Counting Ceremony.

    4. On Election Day, the Congress assessment team visited – in addition to five polling stations in Re (county of Vestfold), one of the municipalities in which a test on e-voting was carried out - randomly-selected polling stations in Drammen (county of Buskerud) and in the capital city of Oslo. The detailed programme of the visit can be found in Appendix I of the document.

    5. The Congress wishes to express its thanks to the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development for the support provided prior to and during this mission.

Background

    6. In terms of territorial organisation, Norway is divided into 18 counties which are further sub-divided into 429 municipalities. The county (“Fylke”) is the intermediate administration level between the state and the municipality. The King of Norway is represented in every county by a Governor (“Fylkesmann”). On 12 September 2011, elections to municipal and county councils in Norway were organised. In 195 municipalities, there were also elections held on Sunday, 11 September. Electronic voting over the internet was tried out in certain areas (10 municipalities) for the first time in Norway, with the ultimate goal of extending the system during the Parliamentary Elections in 2013 and implementing, if successful, full general availability for internet voting in 2017. There was also a pilot on reduced voting age in 20 municipalities. In addition, each municipality was allowed to decide on advisory local referendums. In Oslo, municipalities were allowed to decide on local committee elections. In total, 3,600 000 voters were entitled to cast their ballot.

    7. In August 2008, the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development established a pilot project on electronic voting (including an administrative support system) in 10 selected municipalities – to be ready for the 2011 municipal and county elections. The municipalities, selected to ensure variation and representativeness, were: Bodo, Bremanger, Hammerfest, Mandal, Radoy, Re, Sandnes, Tynset, Vefsn and Alesund.

Electoral system, in general

    8. The Norwegian electoral system is based on the principles of direct election and proportional representation in multi-member electoral divisions. Direct election means that the electors vote directly for representatives of their constituency by giving their vote to an electoral list. Proportional representation means that the representatives are distributed according to the relationship to one another of the individual electoral lists in terms of the number of votes they have received. Both political parties and other groups can put up lists at elections.

    9. In the case of local government elections, members are returned to municipal councils and county councils. Each municipal authority area and each county represents one electoral division. The municipal/county council itself lays down the number of members within statutory minimum requirements in relation to the population of the municipal authority area/county. These rules have been incorporated into the Local Government Act.

    10. The electoral term is four years for all elections. Elections to municipal and county councils are conducted at the same time and are held midway in the electoral term of the Storting. Election Day is fixed by the King to a Monday in September, usually in one of the first two weeks of the month.

    11. Qualified to vote at local government elections is any person who is entitled to vote at parliamentary elections. In addition, Nordic nationals (Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland) are qualified to vote if they were registered as resident in Norway no later than 30 June in the year of election. Other foreign nationals can vote if they have been registered at the Population Registry as resident in Norway for a continuous period of three years immediately prior to Election Day.

    12. Any person who is entitled to vote at the election and who on Election Day is registered at the Population Registry as resident in the municipal authority area or county area in question, and who is not subject to any legal incapacity or exempt, is eligible and bound to accept election.

    13. The municipal authority is responsible for the practical conduct of all elections. In every municipal authority area there shall be an Electoral Committee that is elected by the municipal council. The Electoral Committee is responsible for the conduct of elections in the municipal authority area. If polling is to take place in two or more places in the municipal authority area, the conduct of the election in each place shall be managed by a Polling Committee with no fewer than three members.

    14. Both registered political parties and other groups can put up lists at elections. The procedure is that they produce proposals for electoral lists, which are then subject to the approval of the electoral authorities. A list proposal contains the names of the candidates standing for election for the party/group. The list proposal constitutes the basis of what becomes the ballot paper of the party/group. In the case of local government elections the list proposals shall be filled out in sequence with no fewer than 7 names of candidates. A certain number of the candidates at the top of the list proposal may be given an increased share of the poll.

    15. The system prescribed by the Representation of the People Act is basically that elections to the municipal council are conducted according to the principle of proportionally representative elections with two or more electoral lists. However, it is possible that for a particular election only one list is approved, or no list at all. The election must in such cases be conducted as an election by majority ballot, in which the electors, instead of voting for electoral lists, simply vote for individual persons.

    16. Municipal authorities may decide that elections shall also be held on the Sunday before the official day of election. The Electoral Committee announces to the electors in the municipal authority area when and where polling is to take place on Election Day. Polling stations are to be closed no later than 9.00 pm on Election Day.

    17. Municipal authorities were in charge of last registrations (until 10 days before the elections) for voter lists. In addition to the main list, the voters could also register on the Election Day. Therefore, voters who did not appear in their residence polling station’s list were eligible to be included in a supplementary list on polling day by producing their permanent residence permit duly stamped by the regional authorities.

    18. According to the Norwegian electoral system, voters may complain about conditions with regard to the preparations and conduct of elections. Complaints, both with regard to such conditions as well as in respect of results may be voiced latest 7 days after Election Day. Municipal election results are to be approved by the municipal council, results of county elections by the county council.

The project on E-voting

    19. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development of Norway established in August 2008 a project to implement trials with electronic voting in selected municipalities on the occasion of the 2011 municipal elections. Election law in Norway allows for trying out other ways to conduct elections than required by law, without making law amendments, provided no deviations from the basic principles for the conduct of elections occur. On this basis, pilot schemes were used as a development tool. The Council of Europe's recommendation on standards for E-voting (Rec(2004)11) formed the basis of these trials, unless otherwise specified in the E-voting regulations.

    20. Elections in Norway are organised on the basis of the Election Act from 2002, Election Regulations set by the Ministry in 2003 and the so called Election Act – Purpose Provision (“…to establish such conditions that citizens shall be able to elect their representatives to the Storting, county councils and municipal councils by means of a secret ballot in free and direct elections”).

    21. In order to maintain the principle of secrecy of the vote, electronic voting (to be more precise, remote e-voting over the internet at home) was introduced as a supplementary option and only during the period prior to Election Day. There was also the possibility for E-voters to vote again as often as they wished (in order to prevent undue influence or coercion). The valid paper vote always overrides any electronic vote. The identification and authentification system was based on a high level of security. The system was required not to reveal any connection between the voter and her/his vote.

    22. The overall objective was to establish a secure electronic voting solution for general, municipal and county council elections in order to provide better accessibility for all usergroups to cast their ballot. The solution aimed at ensuring rapid implementation of elections with efficient resource usage in municipalities, in order to facilitate the exercise of grassroots democracy. In general, the authorities sought to uphold the high level of trust of the population in the Norwegian election system, based on the principle of secret ballot in free and direct elections.

    23. By further developing the electronic voting system, the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and – more generally speaking – the Government aims also at improving the practical organisation of elections. If all voters vote electronically, the counting process could potentially finish within a few minutes after the closing of the polling stations. Another reason is to attract specific segments of the electorate, in particular young voters. Electronic voting has also the potential to allow disabled people to vote without the assistance of other persons (e.g. through screenreaders for the blind). Another pragmatic interest in e-voting is the possibility to run elections in a more cost effective way.

    24. In order to further encourage citizens to take part in these elections, advance voting was promoted in different ways: early paper voting “inland” started on 1 July and ended on 9 August (“abroad” it started on 1 July and ended on 2 September); regular advance paper voting “inland” started on 10 August and ended on 9 September; E-voting was possible from 10 August to 9 September 2011.

    25. In order to ensure a high level of transparency of the E-voting system, an open source system was selected by the Norwegian authorities. To improve security on the client (voter) side and to enhance voter verifiability, return codes were used. These return codes were introduced to replace the function of the observer in the polling station (after the log-on the E-voter submitted his/her vote to the system and received a return code which corresponded to the code on the polling card provided to the E-voter in paper version only).

    26. Paper ballots cast in advance were counted by the Electoral Committee (first counting no later than 4 hours before the closing of the polling stations, second counting after the closing of the polling stations). For paper ballots cast on Election Day, the first counting at the polling station started as soon as the polling station was closed; the second counting was carried out centrally by the Electoral Committee (often electronically).

    27. During the preliminary counting of E-votes (carried out at the Ministry), the system corrected approved paper votes cast by a voter. Subsequently, the system corrected multiple electronic votes cast by one and the same voter. The preliminarily approved electronic votes were then decrypted. Once all paper votes had been approved, the final approval of E-votes took place.

Election Day

    28. On Election Day, the Congress assessment team, comprising two Congress members and one member of the Congress secretariat, visited 12 randomly selected polling stations: five in the pilot municipality for E-voting Re, three in Drammen and four in the capital city of Oslo. All in all, the visit allowed the delegation for assessing the specificities of the legal and practical side of election management in Norway. It was noticeable that in many polling stations the President of the polling committee was at the same time frontrunner for a specific party which is in line with Norwegian legislation. The Congress delegation was informed that this regulation will be changed in the near future.

    29. On the eve of Election Day, the Congress delegation was invited to attend the decryption and counting ceremony of e-votes cast in the municipality and county council election in the Auditorium of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development in Oslo, Akersgata 59

    30. In total, there were 167 506 persons entitled to vote in the 10 test municipalities in the frame of the Norwegian Municipal and County Elections 2011. Out of 105 050 voters who actually cast their ballot, 38 272 voted in advance and 66 778 voted on Election Day. This means that out of approximately 23% of voters who voted in advance there were about 73% internet voters. In relation to the total number of persons entitled to vote in the 10 test municipalities 16,5 % voted on internet (relative to voters who actually cast their ballot, the proportion of internet users is 26,4% compared to 10,03% who voted in advance on paper).

    31. The fact that a large majority of the advance voters used the internet (instead of the paper vote) signifies that the response to the pilot by the voters in the test constituencies was to a great extend positive. The high degree of trust between people and trust in the electoral system in Norway as well as the high degree of ICT competence and internet accessibility may have played a role in this respect. In addition, the Norwegian authorities provided for ample information and transparency throughout the entire electoral process. A detailed evaluation study on different aspects of this pilot, including trust in E-voting, credibility of local opinion makers and secrecy of the vote, was started in 2011 and will be concluded in 2012.

Results and evaluation of the trials

    32. The Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development has signed contracts with two research centres, which will be looking closely into the effects of E-voting in the 10 trial municipalities, on the basis of electoral and democratic criteria. 

    33. The greater part of the research will be carried out by the Institute for Social Research, working together with the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), the Uni Rokkan Centre, the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Computing Centre. A smaller part of the assignment will be carried out by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), an American organisation with over 20 years’ experience in the election field. Between them, these research centres have a wealth of national and international electoral expertise, with specific expertise in research into local democracy, voter behaviour, electoral implementation and electronic solutions for democracy and voting.

    34. The researchers will be looking into the significance of E-voting as regards accessibility and electoral participation, the extent to which voters have confidence in E-voting and voter's attitudes to secret voting in uncontrolled environments, among other issues. They will also be looking at the Norwegian E-voting trials in an international perspective, as well as evaluating the trials in relation to international standards for internet voting and elections in general.

    35. The researchers will use both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Among other things, they will be carrying out questionnaire surveys in the trial municipalities, in-depth interviews with selected groups, focus groups for young people and observation studies of user-friendliness for the handicapped.

    36. Four of the 10 E-voting municipalities were also taking part in the trials of voting for 16 and 17 year-olds. This will give the researchers a unique opportunity to look at the relationship between young people and electronic voting. The results of the research are planned to be ready before autumn 2012.

Appendix 1 - programme of the political assessment mission of the Congress of the Council of Europe to Norway, on the occasion of local elections

9 to 13 September 2011

Friday, 9 September

Afternoon Arrival of the delegation at Oslo Airport

Saturday, 10 September

09.00 – 13.00 Information Session for Election Observers, organised by the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development(introduction to election system with an emphasis on local elections, election related procedures, new pilots, OSCE’s observation of the Norwegian elections in 2009 and Norwegian follow up etc.)

13.00 - 14.00 Lunch – hosted by KRD

14.30 – 15.30 Meeting KRD/Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Council of Europe

Sunday, 11 September

14.00 – 18.00 Conference on E-voting, organised by the Norwegian authorities

(See detailed programme attached)

Monday, 12 September

    Election Day

19.00 – 22.00 Decryption and counting ceremony

Tuesday, 13 September

Departure of the delegation

Program for Sunday at the Norwegian E-voting Conference 2011

13:30 - 14:00 Registration

14:00 - 14:15 Opening and Welcome

      Mr. Hans Petter F. Gravdahl, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development
      -Mr. Henrik Nore, Project Manager, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development
      -Mr. Christian Bull, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development (chairman)

14:15 - 14:45 Ms Marianne Riise, Professional Director, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development

      -The Norwegian E-voting trials 2011 –Legal framework

14:45 - 15:30 Mr. Christian Bull, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development

      -Safety first! Verifiability in the eVote2011 system

15:30 - 16:00 Coffee break

16:00 - 16.45 Ms Melanie Volkamer, Center for Advanced Security Research Darmstadt, Germany and Mr. Oliver Spycher, Bern University of Applied Science /University of Fribourg, Department of Informatics

      -Transparency and Technical Measures to Establish Trust in Norwegian Internet Voting

16:45 - 17:15 Mr. Kristian Gjøsteen, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Trondheim
-The mathematics of Internet voting

17:15 - 17:45 Ms Signe Bock Segaard, Institute for Social Research, Oslo.
-The research and evaluation of the e-voting trials 2011

17.45 - 18:00 Closing remarks

Appendix 2 - Norway Local elections - Final results from the e-voting in the trial municipalities1


Muncipalities

Bodø – 1804

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

2423

34,8

SV

300

4,3

RØDT

312

4,5

SP

153

2,2

KRF

147

2,1

V

231

3,3

H

1733

24,9

FRP

1533

22

KYST

15

0,2

MDG

59

0,8

Blanke

51

0,7

 

6957

100

     

Bremanger – 1438

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

107

26,3

SV

49

12

SP

58

14,3

KRF

9

2,2

V

23

5,7

H

110

27

FRP

46

11,3

Blanke

5

1,2

 

407

100

     


Hammerfest – 2004

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

690

61,3

SV

82

7,3

SP

15

1,3

KRF

19

1,7

H

209

18,6

FRP

75

6,7

KYST

25

2,2

Blanke

11

1

 

1126

100

     

Mandal – 1002

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

396

27,2

SV

44

3

SP

16

1,1

KRF

174

11,9

V

84

5,8

H

289

19,8

FRP

411

28,2

DEMN

4

0,3

MDG

34

2,3

Blanke

5

0,3

 

1457

100

     


Radøy – 1260

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

117

15,2

RØDT

10

1,3

SP

277

36,1

KRF

50

6,5

V

50

6,5

H

178

23,2

FRP

83

10,8

Blanke

3

0,4

 

768

100

     

Re – 0716

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

206

21

SV

27

2,8

SP

345

35,2

V

34

3,5

FRP

139

14,2

KYST

4

0,4

RE_H_KRF

213

21,7

Blanke

13

1,3

 

981

100

     


Sandnes – 1102

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

1814

22,1

SV

261

3,2

RØDT

37

0,5

SP

269

3,3

KRF

580

7,1

V

415

5,1

H

2788

34

FRP

1815

22,2

DEMN

6

0,1

KSP

23

0,3

MDG

61

0,7

PP

82

1

Blanke

42

0,5

 

8193

100

     

Tynset – 0437

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

197

21,8

SV

279

30,9

SP

182

20,2

KRF

26

2,9

V

38

4,2

H

122

13,5

FRP

27

3

TYV

28

3,1

Blanke

4

0,4

 

903

100

     


Vefsn – 1824

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

552

41,6

SV

63

4,7

RØDT

140

10,5

SP

67

5

KRF

23

1,7

V

80

6

H

174

13,1

FRP

220

16,6

Blanke

9

0,7

 

1328

100

 

Ålesund – 1504

Party/Group

Counted e-votes

Percentage

A

1247

22,9

SV

160

2,9

RØDT

48

0,9

SP

59

1,1

KRF

370

6,8

V

350

6,4

H

1747

32,1

FRP

1200

22,1

DEMN

10

0,2

PP

31

0,6

TVPÅL

176

3,2

Blanke

36

0,7

 

5434

100

A. Election turnout in The Norwegian Municipal and County Council Election 2011. Municipalities participating in the e-voting trials.

 
                   

Municipality

Entitled to vote 2011

Number of voters (crossed off in the electoral roll) 2011

Voters who voted in advance 2011

Voters who voted on Election Day 2011

Election turnout
2011 1)

Election turnout
2007 1)

Election Turnout
2003 1)

Change in election turnout from 2003 to 2007

Change in election turnout from 2007 to 2011

Bodø

36 635

24 131

9 990

14 141

65,9 %

59,5 %

47,5 %

12,0 %

6,4 %

Bremanger

2 955

1 947

601

1 346

65,9 %

65,1 %

63,8 %

1,3 %

0,8 %

Hammerfest

7 752

4 373

1 812

2 561

56,4 %

51,7 %

51,0 %

0,7 %

4,7 %

Mandal

11 764

7 413

2 254

5 159

63,0 %

61,4 %

62,8 %

-1,4 %

1,6 %

Radøy

3 687

2 475

954

1 521

67,1 %

69,7 %

65,9 %

3,8 %

-2,6 %

Re

6 870

4 395

1 300

3 095

64,0 %

63,0 %

62,5 %

0,5 %

1,0 %

Sandnes

48 689

30 537

10 349

20 188

62,7 %

61,5 %

57,5 %

4,0 %

1,2 %

Tynset

4 163

2 870

1 144

1 726

68,9 %

65,0 %

60,1 %

4,9 %

3,9 %

Vefsn

10 456

6 193

2 078

4 115

59,2 %

57,8 %

55,8 %

2,0 %

1,4 %

Ålesund

34 535

20 716

7 790

12 926

60,0 %

57,6 %

52,5 %

5,1 %

2,4 %

TOTAL

167 506

105 050

38 272

66 778

 

 

 

 

 

1) Calculated on numbers of voters crossed off in the electoral roll, common for both the municipal council election and county council election.

 

* Includes the 16- and 17- years olds in Bodø, Hammerfest, Mandal og Ålesund, but these voters were only entitled to vote in the Municipal Council Election.


Appendix 3 - Local elections Norway Statistics on election turnout – municipalities participating in the e-voting pilot project
2

B. Voters who voted in the advance voting period (on paper or by internet) in The Norwegian Municipal Council and County Council Election 2011. Municipalities participating in the e-voting trials.

Municipality

Entitled to vote

Number of voters (crossed off in the electoral roll)

Number of people that voted on internet (after cleansing-process) *

Voters who voted in advance

Percentage of people entitled to vote who voted in advance on paper

Percentage of people entitled to vote who voted in advance on internet**

Percentage of people entitled to vote who voted in advance

Percentage of voters who voted in advance on paper

Percentage of voters who voted in advance on internet**

Percentage of voters who voted in advance

Percentage of advance voters that voted on internet **

Bodø

36 635

2 976

7 014

9 990

8,12%

19,15%

27,27%

12,33%

29,07%

41,40%

70,21%

Bremanger

2 955

193

408

601

6,53%

13,81%

20,34%

9,91%

20,96%

30,87%

67,89%

Hammerfest

7 752

680

1 132

1 812

8,77%

14,60%

23,37%

15,55%

25,89%

41,44%

62,47%

Mandal

11 764

788

1 466

2 254

6,70%

12,46%

19,16%

10,63%

19,78%

30,41%

65,04%

Radøy

3 687

183

771

954

4,96%

20,91%

25,87%

7,39%

31,15%

38,55%

80,82%

Re

6 870

313

987

1 300

4,56%

14,37%

18,92%

7,12%

22,46%

29,58%

75,92%

Sandnes

48 689

2 103

8 246

10 349

4,32%

16,94%

21,26%

6,89%

27,00%

33,89%

79,68%

Tynset

4 163

237

907

1 144

5,69%

21,79%

27,48%

8,26%

31,60%

39,86%

79,28%

Vefsn

10 456

744

1 334

2 078

7,12%

12,76%

19,87%

12,01%

21,54%

33,55%

64,20%

Ålesund

34 535

2 317

5 473

7 790

6,71%

15,85%

22,56%

11,18%

26,42%

37,60%

70,26%

TOTAL

167 506

10 534

27 738

38 272

6,29%

16,56%

22,85%

10,03%

26,40%

36,43%

72,48%

         

           

*Calculated on numbers of voters crossed off in the electoral roll, common for both the municipal council election and county council election.

   

** Note that this is calculated on figures after the cleansingprocess (i.e. the process to make sure voters get only one approved internet vote and whether the voters have voted on paper). If a voter voted on paper, either in the advance voting period or on Election Day, this paper vote would overwrite the internet vote. These voters are not included here.

1 Source : website of the Norwegian Ministry of Local government and regional development : http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/krd/prosjekter/e-vote-2011-project/final-results-from-the-e-voting-in-the-t.html?id=654212#K1804

2 Source : Website of the Ministry on Local government and Regional development : http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/krd/prosjekter/e-vote-2011-project/elections-results-and-statistics.html?id=654811



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