This year, for the first time, the London Mathematical Society has introduced on-line voting in their annual elections, as an alternative to voting on paper. It is being implemented by the Electoral Reform Society, about whom I know little – but I did come across them once before. In Oxford I was for a short time scrutineer for the Junior Common Room elections; the rule-book for the elections, and instructions for counting them under the STV system (for the committee) and AV (for President and Vice President) was written by the ERS, and it was both clear and mathematically accurate.
One of the candidates says in a personal statement,
Really, mathematicians should be pioneers in using this new technology, but at least we are now catching up.
I agree with that. So I tried out the on-line voting last night.
After I managed to type in my two security numbers at the second attempt, I was favourably impressed. The voting pages were accurate replicas of the paper pages; at the bottom of each page you have the option of going on or back to the preceding page; and at the end you get a summary of the votes you have cast.
The ultimate tests are whether this is as secure as paper voting, and whether the membership will take it up. Time will tell.