Electronic voting in Belgium

Published on: 23/08/2006
Use of electronic voting systems based on magnetic card and a voting machine with a light pen. Started as an experiment in 1991 in two locations, 44 % of the Belgian population cast their vote electronically during the 13 june 2004 elections. The main objectives: - simplify the voting operations - counting in an automatic way instead of mobilising thousand of people in a counting operation - faster divulgation of electoral results

Main results, benefits and impacts

3.2 million voters (20 % of voters in Wallonia, 49 % in Flanders and all voters in Brussels) have voted electronically during the elections of 13 june 2004. In 62 of the 208 cantons or 201 of the 589 municipalities citizens have voted electronically. In general the voters experienced the use of the systelm as "easy" and user-friendly. Since the counting of the votes is in those cantons is automated, no more "counting offices" are needed. The results of the voting within a canton are written on a floppy disk and send to the Federal Public Service Home Affairs by network (file tranfer). This way the Federal Public Service Home Affairs disposes of the results very rapidly after closing time of the polling stations. In 2004 all cantonal offices sent their results in a digital way to the Federal Public Service Home Affairs. Several elections took place at the same time. For the cantonal offices that were equipped for e-voting 50% of the results were available between 16.30 hours and 19.30 hours (depending on the type of election). For the other electoral offices 50% of the results were available between 18.30 hours and 20.30 hours (depending on the type of election). The traditional polling stations closed at 13 hours pm while the polling stations with e-voting closed at 15 hours pm.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Lessons learnt

As a result of the changes in legislation, the regions are responsable for the organisation of the elections for provincial and municipal councils in 2006. They can take advantage of the experiences of the federal government. An agreement for cooperation has been signed. Any country that would like to install a similar system can learn from our experience. The General Direction Institutions and Population has agreed to join a consortium that prepares a proposition for an "Electronic Voting Administration System" (Integrated project proposal IST Call 4). Since the start of the electronic system in 1991, different countries and institutions have asked for information, explanations and demonstrations. They are not only interested in the technical aspects of the system but also in the organisational and legal framework. The Genral Direction Institutions and Population is willing to give any information. The system can be demonstrated. - The introduction of e-voting has to happen gradually. - The introduction must be accompanied with a national information and learning campaign. - Information- and trainingsessions must be organised at each election. - The preparation and the organistion of the elections must be guided and supported locally. - Each election has to be followed by a evaluation which results in technical and organisational adaptations. - The operation of electronic elections is based on a good cooperation between the different authorities who are involved. - Certification tests have to be executed by an independent organism.