Palestinian Online Elections

Palestinian Online Elections

D. Essam Adwan


This article presents an integrated conception of a modern, sophisticated and creative election mechanism that avoids the artificial obstacles of the Palestinian people. and shows their benefits, It explains the steps necessary to get started.




Online electronic elections (also known as digital elections) can be defined as: Systems in which votes are obtained, votes cast or counted in elections and political referendums using special digital applications, a personal device connection to the Internet and no polling stations. This type provides election officials with minimal control and greater voter access and convenience.


Many countries in the world have implemented electronic voting systems via the Internet, Partially, Of which: Australia, Estonia, Armenia, France, Pakistan, Panama, (These last four countries limit online voting to those living outside their country), Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Russia, U.A.E The United States of America, Canada (municipal elections only), Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and others.


Experience of Estonia:


The experience of Estonia (on the Baltic Sea) was the first in this field, as it began to implement online elections since 2005 in a limited and complementary way to balloting through the ballots. But it gradually expanded in this area, For this purpose, an electronic identity card with a digital signature bearing (ID) has been issued to the person, It gives each person an email with a state domain ( for official uses in which the state communicates with the citizen of Estonia, In 2019, about 43% of voters cast their votes for the parliamentary elections. and about 47% for the European Parliament, Most of them were residing abroad, An individual may vote up to three times during the period granted for voting. However, only the last election will be counted.


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The language of the times:


Digital elections came in line with the spirit of the times that digitization began to invade almost everything, There is e-learning, banks, a stock exchange, passports, and purchase and transport cards, All of them are electronic in many countries of the world, As the nature of every evolution, It starts simple and little and then evolves until it prevails and becomes the dominant azimuth in people’s lives.


Elections through the ballot box:


The challenge of anonymity, One of the most important things that traditional elections address through the ballot box, Your vote must be completely anonymous, No one can know who voted for, This makes the voter safe and free from threats or bribery. Absolute and transparent trust must be provided, To ensure that the electoral system is properly and accurately calculated; This is done with people guarding the boxes, representing the competitors and making sure of the safety procedures of the funds, One person cannot be trusted, He may be corrupt, under threat, incompetent, or both, Despite the secrecy of the election process, the voter can be identified if the court so orders. Voters are sometimes exposed because of the involvement of some members of the court in corruption.



Thus, balloting through the ballot box is not perfect enough; But the threats to him are few, • ballot box threats have become known and preventable over time; The more papers need to be changed, The number of people you need to influence has increased, The more time and money it takes, the more time and money it takes, The less secrecy and likelihood of hiding the few tampering attempts, Of the thousands of ballot boxes, only a few can be influenced and do not clearly affect the results; Such as attempts to influence the vote of the elderly or the infirm through their agents. One aspect of governments’ reluctance to use digital elections is their fear of losing control of the election control tool. Especially in developing and dictatorial countries.


Online Election:


As for online voting, The first problem he faces is the extent of trust in the electronic application, Large numbers of voters are unaware of hacking software, virus applications and Trojans hacking their devices without their knowledge. which can pose a risk to their voting on voting days as it is easy for hackers to hack them and influence, cancel or deny access to their vote, Especially if the infiltrations are overseen by a “national” government or governments (especially Israel) aimed at not enabling the Palestinians to genuinely choose their representatives.



If the biggest skepticism about the usefulness of online elections is the potential to be influenced by hackers and manipulators, The biggest negative in the ballot box elections under occupation is the prevention of the electoral process in the first place, as happened recently in Jerusalem. or interferes in confiscating boxes or denying voters access to them; or theft, replacement or destruction of funds by the governing bodies in anticipation of the possibility of loss, This makes online elections far ahead of box elections.


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Palestinian Need:


Certainly, none of these countries needed this kind of elections as much as the Palestinian people. If their motivation is scientific and technical progress, concern for the comfort of citizens, facilitating the voting process for them, and saving voting costs, The need and necessity require this kind of election for the Palestinian people because of its fragmentation in most countries of the world. It is a unique circumstance against which no other country has been subjected to measure.


The Palestinian people have faced real difficulties that have a profound impact on the course of their cause because of the inability to hold elections in their places. Neither technologies nor ideas were available fifty years ago, for example, Unlike today, It has become possible to overcome these difficulties and implement online elections that do not require the consent of the countries hosting the Palestinians. It is not under anyone’s control.


The PLO has never had the opportunity to be the democratic institution it is today. If its legislation does not regulate any Palestinian elections at any level, It did not work to create a comprehensive electoral register for all the Palestinian people, It has never held any elections for the Palestinian National Council. Today, it can deal with all these matters through legislation. For online elections, and the formation and application of an electronic electoral register for the Palestinian people wherever they are. This is something that is in the hands of the leaders, intellectuals, technicians and organizations of the Palestinian people to help the PLO find the best way to overcome the geopolitical obstacles that have shackled the Palestinian people since the Nakba.


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Online Election Risk Insurance:


Each electoral group, party or faction must be screened, An expert in programming to examine the electronic electoral program before work, With his demo application, and monitor it in action, To ensure that its programming does not divert individual elections to a specific entity; Or an automatic selective process that directs 20% of an election in a country to a specific faction. Experts should examine programming very carefully and hire reliable international experts.
The servers on which they are downloaded must also be checked, To ensure that it is not infiltrated by the countries that own it in the service of a Palestinian party or to miss the Palestinian people’s options in favor of Israel. However, the online election process is the most accessible to voters everywhere. This fits exactly the need and nature of the Palestinian presence, which is unusually widespread in more than 170 countries. The inclusion of online voting is one of the factors encouraging an increase in the percentage of voters, especially among the youth and generations less associated with Palestine due to geographical distance and cultural mixing.




The search for ways and techniques to prevent piracy, secure voters and facilitate candidate nominations, It must be the main concern of the Palestinian leadership in order to achieve the wish of our people for unity of decision and unity of destiny by enabling them to choose their representatives with transparency, credibility and competence. One possible means of making cyber operations more difficult is to adopt more than one electronic electoral program. so that each one is applied in a particular territory, With the ability to pour all these programs into a single database to sort the results. Decentralized elections may be the best way to overcome the external interference attempts that many countries are accustomed to in Palestinian affairs.


The electronic online election mechanism can be applied to the voting of the members of the Palestinian National Council on decisions where it is difficult for them to meet under one dome, Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council may need the same mechanism.


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Why use online digital elections for Palestinians?


1. The complexities of the Palestinian cause have created a unique kind of international interference in the affairs of the Palestinian people. The Arab States refuse to hold elections for the Palestinian people in their territories for political or demographic considerations. and suspicious international engagements, Some foreign countries share these considerations in the service of Israel. As well as the occupying power, which will certainly reject the participation of its 2 million Palestinians in the election of their representatives in the Palestinian National Council. Online digital elections represent a way out of geopolitical impact on the Palestinian cause and on the Palestinian people.


2. The Palestinian people have never contested general elections for the Palestinian National Council; There is no doubt that the Palestinians old and young, Their males and females yearn for a day when they will be able to vote, This will not happen without online elections for reasons related to the previous reason.
3. The Philistines will prove, As usual, their ability to overcome difficulties, And overcome the impossible, With their firm will, Reaffirm their right to life in dignity and self-determination, and to gain their freedom, It is inconceivable that the Palestinians should easily succumb to the difficulties of elections and lose their right to renew their leadership and dictate their conditions to the international community. While a small country like Estonia can!


4. The formation of an electronic electoral register for Palestinians in the world, It will be an unprecedented golden opportunity to create a population that is as close to the truth as possible, This will be followed by the issuance of an electronic non-print identification card that will enable the holder to prove his Palestinian identity for any need he wants, including voting online. Rather, the PLO can issue these cards physically (magnetic card) that serve as a Palestinian passport obtained by all Palestinians who want it. Especially Palestinians abroad, This confirms the PLO’s sovereignty over all the Palestinian people.


5. Even PLC elections will benefit from online voting to overcome the obstacles of the Israeli occupation, The Palestinians resented the postponement of the legislative elections due to the occupation’s refusal to hold them in Jerusalem. It is also able to disable them throughout the West Bank, Online elections thus represent a challenge to the occupation that prevents it from imposing its diabolical will on the Palestinian people.


6. Everyone is looking for comfort and speed of performance, In a time of business complexity and greater connectivity to technology and the Internet, many voters are reluctant to go to the box of proposals, It is likely to get a significant response from them in favor of an election that they carry out in moments without having to disrupt their work or travel from their places to polling stations. Especially in the diaspora.


7. Young people are more connected to contemporary technology, Passion for technical methods, and less interested in politics, Especially outside Palestine, Online elections would encourage them to experiment.


8. Many physically disabled or infirm persons and the elderly are reluctant to go to the polls, Due to hardship and distance, Especially for Palestinians abroad, Online elections will be encouraging for them to run, as they do not cost them effort, time or fear of being manipulated in front of the ballot box.


9. Palestinians are spread in more than 170 countries in the world, None of them will disrupt their working and school life for the sake of their elections. Thus, Palestinians in those countries will be able to exercise their right to vote without disrupting their work or studies. Online voting will also provide the Palestinian Authority with the ability to disrupt business for election day. This would save a lot of money for any government on Election Day holidays.


10. Some countries have just tens or hundreds of Palestinians, It is not hoped that the election administration, if it is decided to be held for the entire Palestinian people, will provide them with a ballot box at the Palestinian embassy or perhaps no embassy there. They will be able to vote online with ease.


11. The different timings between so many countries in the world where Palestinians reside will make the voting process through the ballot box take several days to suit the daylight dates in each country. While these complications are not needed in the case of an online election, which a person may do at midnight or dawn if he wishes, The entire electoral process will be completed within 24 hours.


12. Administratively, • online voting can reduce ballot errors and corruption; Which can occur by selecting too many or too few candidates, or unclear signs, or signs that identify the voter.


13. In digital elections, digitally illiterate people can use their children or a family member, This may not be possible in paper ballots. This is a response to those who say that digital illiteracy is the obstacle.


14. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in South America and elsewhere find it difficult to read Arabic. Voting via an online app will allow them to read and recommend in any language they want.


15. If the PLO wants to hold elections for the Palestinian National Council around the world, It needs to coordinate with some 170 countries where Palestinians are present. This is very complicated, It requires huge financial costs, and exposed to countless risks, It is almost unworkable fantasy thinking.
But online elections will overcome all these complexities and don’t need a lot of money. The US administration has estimated the cost of electronic voting per capita at only one dollar. This means that the participation of about five million Palestinians, for example, will cost only five million US dollars. It is a small amount for such an operation and can be managed.


16. The benefit of online digital elections will not be limited to the election of the Palestinian National Council, or the Legislative Council, Rather, it goes beyond it to serve the Palestinian factions, whose members are spread like the Palestinians in the countries of the world. It also serves the Palestinian popular unions, Such as workers, teachers, doctors, engineers, etc., The faction or union only has to announce the election day, Open the online election link, To complete the process in less than 24 hours, We get remarkable results that contribute to controlling the political and professional conditions of the Palestinian people.


17. The benefits of online voting extend to the Palestinian people’s referendum on their constitution, national charter or basic law; Or any issue that needs the opinion of the entire Palestinian street.


In the following table, the most prominent risks and advantages of voting through the ballot box and via the Internet with regard to the Palestinian case (red shading for the better, and yellow for a draw, and blue for the worst):

Publication1-300x212 Palestinian Online Elections

Thus, it is clear from this comparison that online voting far outperforms ballot box elections in the specific case of Palestine.


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Necessary preparations


The transition from traditional elections through the ballot box to online elections requires a set of prior preparations and the creation of an appropriate knowledge, legal, technical and security environment.

Legal legislation:


Amend Palestinian Election Law, Knowing that there is no such law for the election of the Palestinian National Council, The existing legislation is limited to the election of the Palestinian Legislative Council only, and therefore it is necessary to enact a law issued by the Palestinian National Council approving the elections of the Palestinian National Council and the popular unions approved therein. Reconsider the mechanism for electing the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization to be elected directly by the people in light of the availability of an electronic mechanism that facilitates this procedure, which was not available before.
All Palestinian factions, forces and institutions must send letters to the Executive Committee of the PLO and the President of the Palestinian National Council demanding that they adopt online elections for the Palestinian National Council and provide the necessary means to do so. There is no alternative available for holding these elections.

National Elections Commission:


In the event that the Palestinian National Council approves an online election mechanism and enacts a law for it, There is no doubt that he will establish a National Elections Commission to do what is necessary. In the event that it is decided to develop the Central Elections Commission for the elections of the Palestinian Authority, It could be renamed and tasked with adopting the new mechanisms and creating an electoral register for all the Palestinian people.
If the National Assembly fails to fulfil its role, The Central Elections Commission invoked lack of jurisdiction, And no official moved a finger, It means that the political rights of the Palestinian people have been put in drawers. In this case, a national popular body must take it upon itself to fill the void. Enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their political rights, especially their right to vote, Through the formation of a National Election Commission.


Preparatory steps:


1- Develop an electoral law that adopts online elections as the only means of elections for the Palestinian people.


2. Send a delegation to the State of Estonia to study its experience in online voting and its mechanisms, And the signing of a cooperation agreement with them in this regard.


3- Sending a technical committee to the Spanish company Scytl, which specializes in online elections, which has administered such elections in a number of countries that have implemented them, In order to identify the mechanism of action, guarantees, Check maximum security levels, and possibilities for benefit.


4- Preparing special servers for the electoral process and contracting with its operators, Each region (electoral district) has its own server.


5. Preparing a website to display the names and biographies of candidates for the elections, Linked to a data form filled out by each candidate and paying a nomination fee via electronic payment cards, These funds are to be pooled in an agreed bank to finance the electoral process. Once the candidates are complete, Ballots are designed and sent securely to members one or more days before voting.


6- The formation of six million e-mails carrying the domain of Palestine, and reserve it for voters, Every Palestinian registered at voting age receives an official email. Allows every Palestinian to send his identification documents via this special e-mail, Through it, it receives any announcement, instructions and instructions related to the electoral process.


7- Creating a database for a Palestinian electoral register through an easy-to-use and secure electronic application, Each Palestinian fills it out with the required proofs. This data is stored in a central database supervised by the National Elections Commission.


8- Preparing a funded advertisement calling on every Palestinian to prove his electoral right by entering the electronic application to fill in his data and prove his Palestinian to ensure his electoral right. It is required that the advertisement reach every Palestinian throughout the world no less than once a day for a month.


9. In order to facilitate the task, the electoral register shall be sufficient in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Each member is contacted to fill out the electronic form to join the central database, Instead of attaching proof of his Palestinianness, His number is entered in the electoral register in the Palestinian Authority territories.


10. Appeal to Palestinian programming experts around the world, To hold a specialized workshop to develop one or more electoral (electronic application) program or applications online to ensure the safety of the process from beginning to end. This group becomes the technical committee to monitor the technical progress of the electoral process.


Ongoing Technical Support:


The service should also provide round-the-clock, seven-day-a-week technical support to candidates and individual voters if they have trouble accessing ballots. You should also ensure that voters have access to their ballots anytime, anywhere on election day.

Voting Tracking:


Certain types of software can track openings, click rates, and the exact moment when the vote is processed. You can review the sounds as soon as they come in, Without knowing who voted for it. Once the digital elections are over, The NEC will provide tabulation of results with additional analyses upon request.



Security should always be a top priority. This means that an expert technical committee or a service provider that offers a wide range of protection options should be hired.
Each member must be allowed to vote only once or be able to change their election provided that their last vote will be counted through the program and ballots must be kept secret. The management system must be able to count votes.

Social Media Integration:


When a member completes his online ballot, He’ll see social media icons for sites like Facebook and LinkedIn – which he referred to as “social media buttons.” This gives voters the ability to declare that they have cast their votes successfully and passionately. He encourages their colleagues to do the same. People are sharing their life events with others on the Internet – and voting is no exception. This deliberate public broadcast of life events is equivalent to going to a family gathering and advertising an advertisement, Albeit with much greater accessibility. Another member may be tempted to do the same. According to one of the few studies that analyzed Facebook’s early “go out to vote” campaign, The researchers determined that such participation could have an impact on election turnout.

And then


One may see the difficulty and cost of these preparations, But it is certainly cheaper and lighter than any preparations needed for elections through the ballot box. And it is the most suitable for the needs of the Palestinian people It will benefit him in many ways, The first is the election of the Palestinian National Council.

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