Last year, an election for the student council at Namiki Secondary School in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, drew national media attention. Outspoken candidates? Juicy campaign scandals? Not at all. The contest was, by all accounts, a decorous and incident-free affair.

Instead, the press found novelty in how the students voted: online, via smartphone.

Remote electronic voting for public office is forbidden in Japan, whose election law requires voters to cast ballots on paper, in person at supervised polling stations.