The CIVICS project is inspired by the assumption that the use of i-voting for e-consultations, e-referenda, and especially e-elections promotes direct, participatory, and representative democracy as well as more transparent, engaging, and accountable governance. To test this, the project puts forward the objectives to identify i-voting impact on voters, civil society organisations, authorities, open government as a system, and discover conditions affecting i-voting impact in these aspects.
In contrast to the available studies that focus on a single country, a specific i-voting campaign, or a narrow aspect and miss the link to open government, this research endeavours to examine a more complete set of i-voting countries, campaigns, instruments, dimensions and associate i-voting with open government. Conceptually it views open government as collaborative public policy making by citizens and authorities. Methodologically it is being studied by policy analysis of i-voting legislation and reports; content-analysis of public and civic websites; statistical analysis of i-voting results tables, log files and public opinion surveys; and qualitative comparative analysis of i-voting- and open government-related variables.
The project is carried out at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia – the pioneer institution researching e-government in the only country in the world that has implemented i-elections for all voters. Principally, the action is performed in collaboration with the ECePS ERA Chair in E-governance and Digital Public Services research team, mastering advanced methods of statistical analysis, and using mixed methods to model and assess the impact of i-voting on open government venturing to circulate academic findings and practical recommendations for a more influential i-voting, empowered e-participation, and good e-governance.