Government panel proposes allowing Japanese expats to vote online using My Number ID cards

JIJI

A government panel said Friday it would be feasible to introduce an online voting system for Japanese expatriates to participate in national elections.

Technical hurdles concerning voter identification could be overcome with the use of My Number ID cards, according to a report compiled by the internal affairs ministry panel.

The ministry plans to conduct an online voting test in fiscal 2019 and request funds for the trial under the government’s budget for the year, which runs from April next year, ministry officials said.

It hopes to revise the public offices election law in fiscal 2020 at the earliest so that the internet voting system can be introduced for Japanese people living abroad, they said.

“I think it’s desirable to introduce the online voting system at an early time,” Seiko Noda, internal affairs minister, told a news conference on Friday.

Japanese expatriates can currently vote at Japanese diplomatic offices abroad or by mail. But one problem with the current system is that the voting periods for them are shorter than for those for voters at home, because it takes time to transport the voting slips back to Japan.

Of some 100,000 Japanese registered voters abroad, the proportion of those who actually vote is low, at about 20 percent.

In the upcoming test, the ministry will examine security-related issues, such as whether ballot secrecy will be protected, the officials said.

Since the My Number cards lose effect when holders move out of Japan, a relevant law needs to be revised to make them valid overseas.

Elsewhere in the report, the ministry panel proposed easing the requirements to set up ballot counting stations on remote islands after a typhoon prevented ballot boxes from being transported from some islands to mainland counting stations in last year’s House of Representatives election, leading to delays in vote counting.

The panel specifically sought a cut in the minimum required number of witnesses for ballot counting per station to two from the current three in times of disasters and other emergencies.