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An absentee ballot is a vote cast by someone who is unable or unwilling to attend the official polling station. Numerous methods have been devised to facilitate this. Increasing the ease of access to absentee ballots are seen by many as one way to improve voter turnout, though some countries require that a valid reason, such as infirmity or travel, be given before a voter can participate in an absentee ballot.
In a postal vote, the ballot papers are posted out to the voter - usually only on request - who must then fill them out and return them, often with some form of certification by a witness and their signature to prove their identity.
To cast a proxy vote, the user appoints someone as their proxy, by authorizing them to cast or secure their vote in their stead. The proxy must be trusted by the voter, as in a secret ballot there is no way of verifying that they voted for the correct candidate. In an attempt to solve this, it is not uncommon for people to nominate an official of their chosen party as their proxy.
Corporations and organizations routinely use Internet voting to elect officers and Board members and for other proxy elections. Internet voting systems have been used privately in many modern nations and publicly in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Estonia. In Switzerland, where it is already an established part of local referendums, voters get their passwords to access the ballot through the postal service. Most voters in Estonia can cast their vote in local and parliamentary elections, if they want to, via the Internet, as most of those on the electoral roll have access to an e-voting system. It has been assisted by the fact that most Estonians carry a national identity card equipped with a computer-readable microchip and it is these cards which they use to get access to the online ballot. All a voter needs is a computer, an electronic card reader, their ID card and its PIN, and they can vote from anywhere in the world. Estonian e-votes can only be cast during the days of advance voting. On election day itself people have to go to polling stations and fill in a paper ballot.
Absentee ballot vote fraud is when votes that were cast via an absentee ballot are not counted, or when fraudulent absentee ballots are successfully counted.
- Election-Europe SARL, Press Release, February 1, 2007, "E-VOTING: FRENCH POLITICAL PARTY UMP MAKES HISTORY!"