Peace engineering: The contribution of blockchain systems to the e-voting process.
ABSTRACT: In recent decades, several countries have faced political tensions due to citizens' perceptions that their elections are fraudulent; some electors have even chosen not to vote because they believe that the results may be falsified. Thus, electoral fraud is a major issue. E-governance and e-voting are now being used in many countries, some of which are investigating blockchain solutions. The aim of this study is to investigate the potential contributions of blockchain technology to peace on a worldwide level by securing voting systems. Unfortunately, this technology is complex and could potentially generate conflict between actors in elections. Taking an exploratory approach, the authors chose a qualitative method to address this specific topic. Election observers and blockchain experts were interviewed to identify the technology's strengths and weaknesses. Our results emphasize the importance of trust and human factors in the voting process.
Project description:Participation in electoral politics is affected by a host of social and demographics variables, but there is growing evidence that biological predispositions may also play a role in behavior related to political involvement. We examined the role of individual variation in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress axis parameters in explaining differences in self-reported and actual participation in political activities. Self-reported political activity, religious participation, and verified voting activity in U.S. national elections were collected from 105 participants, who were subsequently exposed to a standardized (nonpolitical) psychosocial stressor. We demonstrated that lower baseline salivary cortisol in the late afternoon was significantly associated with increased actual voting frequency in six national elections, but not with self-reported non-voting political activity. Baseline cortisol predicted significant variation in voting behavior above and beyond variation accounted for by traditional demographic variables (particularly age of participant in our sample). Participation in religious activity was weakly (and negatively) associated with baseline cortisol. Our results suggest that HPA-mediated characteristics of social, cognitive, and emotional processes may exert an influence on a trait as complex as voting behavior, and that cortisol is a better predictor of actual voting behavior, as opposed to self-reported political activity.
Project description:Background:In democracies, voting is an important action through which citizens engage in the political process. Although elections are only one aspect of political engagement, voting sends a signal of support or dissent for policies that ultimately shape the social determinants of health. Social determinants subsequently influence who votes and who does not. Our objective is to examine the existing research on voting and health and on interventions to increase voter participation through healthcare organizations. Methods:We conducted a scoping review to examine the existing research on voting, health, and interventions to increase voter participation through healthcare organizations. We carried out a search of the indexed, peer-reviewed literature using Ovid MEDLINE (1946-present), PsychINFO (1806-present), Ebsco CINAHL, Embase (1947-present), Web of Science, ProQuest Sociological Abstracts, and Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. We limited our search to articles published in English. Titles and abstracts were reviewed, followed by a full-text review of eligible articles and data extraction. Articles were required to focus on the connection between voting and health, or report on interventions that occurred within healthcare organizations that aimed to improve voter engagement. Results:Our search identified 2041 citations, of which 40 articles met our inclusion criteria. Selected articles dated from 1991-2018 and were conducted primarily in Europe, the USA, and Canada. We identified four interrelated areas explored in the literature: (1) there is a consistency in the association between voting and health; (2) differences in voter participation are associated with health conditions; (3) gaps in voter participation may be associated with electoral outcomes; and (4) interventions in healthcare organizations can increase voter participation. Conclusion:Voting and health are associated, namely people with worse health tend to be less likely to engage in voting. Differences in voter participation due to social, economic, and health inequities have been shown to have large effects on electoral outcomes. Research gaps were identified in the following areas: long-term effects of voting on health, the effects of other forms of democratic engagement on health, and the broader impact that health providers and organizations can have on voting through interventions in their communities.
Project description:Potential consequences of lowering voting age to 16 have been discussed in recent scientific and public debates. This article examines turnout of young voters aged 16 to 17 in Austria, the first European country that lowered the general voting age to 16. For this purpose we use unique data taken from electoral lists of two recent Austrian regional elections. The results support the idea that the so-called "first-time voting boost" is even stronger among the youngest voters as turnout was (a) higher compared to 18- to 20-year-old first-time voters and (b) not substantially lower than the average turnout rate. We conclude that our findings are encouraging for the idea of lowering voting age as a means to establish higher turnout rates in the future.
Project description:IMPORTANCE:In the U.S. presidential election of 2016, substantial shift in voting patterns occurred relative to previous elections. Although this shift has been associated with both education and race, the extent to which this shift was related to public health status is unclear. OBJECTIVE:To determine the extent to which county community health was associated with changes in voting between the presidential elections of 2016 and 2012. DESIGN:Ecological study with principal component analysis (PCA) using principal axis method to extract the components, then generalized linear regression. SETTING:General community. PARTICIPANTS:All counties in the United States. EXPOSURES:Physically unhealthy days, mentally unhealthy days, percent food insecure, teen birth rate, primary care physician visit rate, age-adjusted mortality rate, violent crime rate, average health care costs, percent diabetic, and percent overweight or obese. MAIN OUTCOME:The percentage of Donald Trump votes in 2016 minus percentage of Mitt Romney votes in 2012 ("net voting shift"). RESULTS:Complete public health data was available for 3,009 counties which were included in the analysis. The mean net voting shift was 5.4% (+/- 5.8%). Of these 3,009 counties, 2,641 (87.8%) had positive net voting shift (shifted towards Trump) and 368 counties (12.2%) had negative net voting shift (shifted away from Trump). The first principal component ("unhealthy score") accounted for 68% of the total variance in the data. The unhealthy score included all health variables except primary care physician rate, violent crime rate, and health care costs. The mean unhealthy score for counties was 0.39 (SD 0.16). Higher normalized unhealthy score was associated with positive net voting shift (22.1% shift per unit unhealthy, p < 0.0001). This association was stronger in states that switched Electoral College votes from 2012 to 2016 than in other states (5.9% per unit unhealthy, p <0.0001). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:Substantial association exists between a shift toward voting for Donald Trump in 2016 relative to Mitt Romney in 2012 and measures of poor public health. Although these results do not demonstrate causality, these results suggest a possible role for health status in political choices.
Project description:With a majority of 'Yes' votes in the Constitutional Referendum of 2017, Turkey continued its drift towards an autocracy. By the will of the Turkish people, this referendum transferred practically all executive power to president Erdo?an. However, the referendum was confronted with a substantial number of allegations of electoral misconducts and irregularities, ranging from state coercion of 'No' supporters to the controversial validity of unstamped ballots. Here we report the results of an election forensic analysis of recent Turkish elections to clarify to what extent it is plausible that these voting irregularities were present and able to influence the outcome of the referendum. We apply statistical forensics tests to identify the specific nature of the alleged electoral malpractices. In particular, we test whether the data contains fingerprints for ballot stuffing (submission of multiple ballots per person during the vote) and voter rigging (coercion and intimidation of voters). Additionally, we perform tests to identify numerical anomalies in the election results. For the 2017 Constitutional Referendum we find systematic and highly significant statistical support for the presence of both ballot stuffing and voter rigging. In 11% of stations we find signs for ballot stuffing with a standard deviation (uncertainty of ballot stuffing probability) of 2.7% (4 sigma event). Removing such ballot-stuffing-characteristic anomalies from the data would tip the overall balance from 'No' to a majority of 'Yes' votes. The 2017 election was followed by early elections in 2018 to directly vote for a new president who would now be head of state and government. We find statistical irregularities in the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections similar in size and direction to those in 2017. These findings validate that our results unveil systematic and potentially even fraudulent biases that require further attention in order to combat electoral malpractices.
Project description:The advent of the digital era provided a fertile ground for the development of virtual societies, complex systems influencing real-world dynamics. Understanding online human behavior and its relevance beyond the digital boundaries is still an open challenge. Here we show that online social interactions during a massive voting event can be used to build an accurate map of real-world political parties and electoral ranks for Italian elections in 2018. We provide evidence that information flow and collective attention are often driven by a special class of highly influential users, that we name "augmented humans", who exploit thousands of automated agents, also known as bots, for enhancing their online influence. We show that augmented humans generate deep information cascades, to the same extent of news media and other broadcasters, while they uniformly infiltrate across the full range of identified groups. Digital augmentation represents the cyber-physical counterpart of the human desire to acquire power within social systems.
Project description:Previous research finds that voting is a socially stressful activity associated with increases in cortisol levels. Here we extend this research by investigating whether different voting modalities have differential effects on the stress response to voting. Results from a field experiment conducted during the 2012 presidential elections strongly suggest that traditional "at the polls" voting is more stressful, as measured by increases in cortisol levels, than voting at home by mail-in ballot or engaging in comparable non-political social activities. These findings imply that increased low-stress voting options such as mail-in ballots may increase political participation among individuals who are sensitive to social stressors.
Project description:A new viewpoint on electoral involvement is proposed from the study of the statistics of the proportions of abstentionists, blank and null, and votes according to list of choices, in a large number of national elections in different countries. Considering 11 countries without compulsory voting (Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Switzerland), a stylized fact emerges for the most populated cities when one computes the entropy associated to the three ratios, which we call the entropy of civic involvement of the electorate. The distribution of this entropy (over all elections and countries) appears to be sharply peaked near a common value. This almost common value is typically shared since the 1970s by electorates of the most populated municipalities, and this despite the wide disparities between voting systems and types of elections. Performing different statistical analyses, we notably show that this stylized fact reveals particular correlations between the blank/null votes and abstentionists ratios. We suggest that the existence of this hidden regularity, which we propose to coin as a 'weak law on recent electoral behavior among urban voters', reveals an emerging collective behavioral norm characteristic of urban citizen voting behavior in modern democracies. Analyzing exceptions to the rule provides insights into the conditions under which this normative behavior can be expected to occur.
Project description:Donald Trump's 2016 win despite failing to carry the popular vote has raised concern that 2020 would also see a mismatch between the winner of the popular vote and the winner of the Electoral College. This paper shows how to forecast the electoral vote in 2020 taking into account the unknown popular vote and the configuration of state voting in 2016. We note that 2016 was a statistical outlier. The potential Electoral College bias was slimmer in the past and not always favoring the Republican candidate. We show that in past presidential elections, difference among states in their presidential voting is solely a function of the states' most recent presidential voting (plus new shocks); earlier history does not matter. Based on thousands of simulations, our research suggests that the bias in 2020 probably will favor Trump again but to a lesser degree than in 2016. The range of possible outcomes is sufficiently wide, however, to even include some possibility that Joseph Biden could win in the Electoral College while barely losing the popular vote.
Project description:Democratic societies are built around the principle of free and fair elections, and that each citizen's vote should count equally. National elections can be regarded as large-scale social experiments, where people are grouped into usually large numbers of electoral districts and vote according to their preferences. The large number of samples implies statistical consequences for the polling results, which can be used to identify election irregularities. Using a suitable data representation, we find that vote distributions of elections with alleged fraud show a kurtosis substantially exceeding the kurtosis of normal elections, depending on the level of data aggregation. As an example, we show that reported irregularities in recent Russian elections are, indeed, well-explained by systematic ballot stuffing. We develop a parametric model quantifying the extent to which fraudulent mechanisms are present. We formulate a parametric test detecting these statistical properties in election results. Remarkably, this technique produces robust outcomes with respect to the resolution of the data and therefore, allows for cross-country comparisons.