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With a mouse click, an expat casts his French vote, from Beijing

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Living as a foreigner in China, where none of my local friends has ever had a chance to cast a free vote, I make a special point of always voting when I get the opportunity in my own elections.

Yesterday, France (of which I am a citoyen) made it a whole lot easier for me to do so. I cast my ballot online in parliamentary elections – the first time this has been allowed.

In fact, France is only the second country in the world to allow Internet voting in a national election, (Estonia has been doing it since 2007), offering an online ballot to citizens living abroad. Not only that, we were voting for one of 11 seats in parliament specifically reserved (for the first time) for deputies representing expatriates.

I say the system made it “a whole lot easier.”

But, not exactly. In fact, all in all, it probably took me longer than it would have done to nip over to the French embassy to vote in person at the polling station there next Sunday. But that was because of security concerns, and it took a phone call to a helpline agent in France to sort out various problems with Java script before I could cast my virtual vote.

Security concerns, of course, are what stop Americans from being able to vote online. The Pentagon tried a system in 2000 for its personnel deployed overseas, but decided it was too vulnerable to hackers and abandoned it.


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