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[liberationtech] Web cams in polling stations/helpful?

Luke Allnutt AllnuttL at
Mon Feb 13 06:38:32 PST 2012

Thanks, Griffin, that's a good point. Obviously there are degrees here: so 
for instance, a well-positioned camera showing people's backs would be 
better than a camera in the actual polling both. So in that sense 
well-positioned cameras _might_ have a lesser impact on privacy. 

What isn't clear is how much pscyological impact the presence of cameras 
would have on voters. I wonder if their presence, even if they were 
discretely angled, might still have an intimidating effect....

Griffin Boyce <griffinboyce at> 
02/13/2012 01:58 PM

Luke Allnutt <AllnuttL at>
liberationtech at
Re: [liberationtech] Web cams in polling stations/helpful?

Hi Luke,

  It might be a question of angle, and whether voters' privacy can be 
protected in that environment.  Pointing it at, say, the entrance to 
private voting booths would be better than having a webcam pointed in 
voters' faces, in terms of minimizing vote influence.

Griffin Boyce

On Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 6:10 AM, Luke Allnutt <AllnuttL at> wrote:

Dear All, 

I'm looking into the question of whether having web cams in polling 
stations is a positive for transparency and fair elections. The story is 
related to Russia's plans to install web cameras in polling stations 
across Russia for the March presidential election. 

Obviously, Russia is a special case. Even if the web cams did provide 
transparency, there are enough other factors that put the fairness of the 
election into question: e.g. skewed media, workers being asked to vote en 
masse etc. In my opinion, this endeavor ties into the Kremlin's use of 
technology to present a facade of progress and transparency, without 
giving up much in terms of real democratization. 

But I'm more interested in whether, across the world, this is something 
that the election monitoring community thinks is a good thing and whether 
it aids transparency? 

In some societies, surely, the presence of a web cam in a polling station 
would be unwelcome: people might feel they are being watched by their 
government/friends/employers and that would influence their voting. 

If anyone has any thoughts on this matter, on list or off list, I would 
love to pick your brains for the story.  Any help would be much 
appreciated, as ever. 

Best Wishes, 


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