Dynamics of Trust and Distrust Creation in Internet Voting

The internet has transformed every aspect of our daily life. While it has created new paths to government services, the internet has not yet been fully implemented in elections for reasons related to citizens’ lack of trust in internet voting technology. The ELECTRUST project will study how trust and distrust are created in relation to internet voting. Specifically, it will explore how constructs shape public discourses around internet voting, using discourse analysis and in-depth interviews to map the emergence of trust and distrust and the elements that sustain them. The findings will shed light on the dynamics of trust and distrust creation that can be further applied to other technologies. Case Studies will be developed in Estonia, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Netherlands, Poland.


Participation at the DGO Conference 2024 (Taipei - Taiwan)

A few days ago, I had the chance and honor to participate in the DGO 2024 conference in Taiwan, brilliantly organized by Helen Liu and her team in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the National Taiwan University.
I presented the work stemming from the ELECTRUST project "Trust and distrust in electoral technologies: what can we learn from the failure of electronic voting in the Netherlands (2006/07)" (paper available here). I also had the pleasure of chairing the track on "Digital Government, Solidarity, and Cohesion" together with Tomasz Janowski and Estevez Elsa. It was a great learning and networking experience, allowing me to meet great researchers and participate in interesting dialogues with world-recognized leaders in their field of research.
I am happy to continue to be involved in the future edition of the conference as a Program Chair and will be more than happy to meet the community again in Porto Alegre (Brazil) at the next DGO 2025!

Invited lecture at the Università della Svizzera Italiana

Invited by Anna Picco Schwendener, I had the chance to present in Lugano the results of the project ELECTRUST to students in the MA in Economics and Communication in Public Management and Policy.

A great discussion focusing on the particularities of Swiss democracy and how that intertwines with the development of their own internet voting system


Participation in the CORDIScovery podcast on the occasion of European Elections

No doubt, this is one of the milestones of the project. CORDIS invited three experts from the EU to discuss our contributions to meet the challenges facing democracy in the 21st Century. I was invited to talk about how trust and distrust are generated and how they intersect with electoral technologies. I feel extremely honored to be part of a podcast showcasing the excellence of European Research.

If you want to listen to the podcast, it is available on Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.

Find more information here: https://cordis.europa.eu/article/id/451086-democracy-a-right-worth-defending


Visiting the Zentrum fùr Demokratie Aarau to study the Swiss Internet Voting System

The Electrust team will be, for the following two weeks, based in Aarau (Switzerland), in the Zentrum für Demokratie Aarau, to conduct a case study on the Swiss Internet Voting System. This is an important milestone for the project, being the fifth case study conducted (after The Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, and Australia), and a crucial one for understanding important components of trust and distrust creation. The reasons are diverse. Firstly, Switzerland is a very special country in terms of democracy, hosting four referendums per year and having heavy administrative decentralization. Secondly, their internet voting system was stopped for a while and restarted recently. Managing such a period is crucial for developing a trustworthy environment to promote its use.

We are very excited about the new learnings we might get!


Going to Taiwan! 

The paper on "Trust and Distrust in electoral technologies: what can we learn from the failure of electronic voting in the Netherlands (2006/07)" has been accepted at the 25th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research (dg.o 2024) Internet of Beings: Transforming Public Governance and will be published soon.

It will be a great occasion to present results from ELECTRUST to the specialized audience: Taipei, 11-14 June


Interview at Euronews

"The goal isn’t just to have a secure system, but to have a secure democracy", a possible headline for the interview done at Euronews for a piece on the use of electoral technologies on the occasion of the 2024 electoral year. This year will be the biggest election year in history, with more voters and more elections occurring around the globe. With this idea at the background, I was invited to share opinions on the use of electronic and internet voting and its possible impact on global elections, bringing elements related to the results of ELECTRUST project.

Read the full interview here:

In English

In Spanish


Cordis and the EU Commission highlight the Electrust project! 

On the occasion of the 2024 European Parliament elections, Cordis published a new Results Pack highlighting 15 Horizon-funded projects exploring the current challenges to democracy, and testing innovative solutions that support better engagement with the democratic process.

The main results of the project ELECTRUST are summarized in the following section -Anxieties over internet voting reflect wider social concerns - and are translated into six different languages. This is a great success!



Mission to Astana

I was invited by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as an expert on electoral technologies to participate in the International Conference on Constitutional Reform and Electoral System, in Astana, Kazakhstan on 5-8 December 2023.

The conference, organized on the 30th anniversary of the Kazakhstan's Central Electoral Committee was attended by the heads of the Central Election Commissions, representatives of international organizations, and participants from 11 countries in the region - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Jordan, Moldova, Mongolia, Turkey, Estonia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

At the conference, I could present an overview of the use of electoral technology, highlighting the benefits and risks of its adoption, and introduce elements that bring trust or distrust to internet voting:

  • Trust is built slowly, closely related to the perceived trust in government, the positive experience in using similar technologies, etc.
  • In contrast, distrust is created and disseminated quickly, following the contents and experience that undermine the trustworthiness of technology.

I had also the chance and pleasure to visit the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry, where I met Mr Asset Turyssov, Vice-Minister of Digital Development, to discuss the developments in digital government and digital public services in Kazakhstan.

3 people sitting in the armchairs


New Project Publication "Dis/Trust and Data-Driven Technologies"

Together with Stefano Calzati, we just published "Dis/Trust and data-driven technologies" at Internet Policy Review. The article can be openly accessed here.
The article belongs to the journal series "Concepts of the DigitalSociety", and we propose a theoretical exploration of the use that the specialized literature did of the concepts of Trust and Distrust, pointing out some limitations and proposing an agenda for overcoming them.

In particular, we propose a conceptual definition of trust and distrust as social constructs, discussing the extent to which trust and distrust can be regarded as symmetrically opposed and mutually exclusive or if they shall be approached as self-standing constructs.
We map the research on trust and distrust and the digital, dividing it into two axes: 1) how they are fostered in the development, implementation, and use of data-driven technologies (what we call dis/trust IN data-driven technologies); 2) how data-driven technologies transform their understanding as socio-technical constructs (dis/trust THROUGH data-driven technologies).
The article concludes that:
- Trust is a social construct whose dynamics of creation cannot be fully grasped without also considering the dynamics of distrust. The “digital” is a dimension fostering new forms of trust and distrust in and through data-driven technologies.
- Trust and distrust cannot be solely regarded as social constructs (involving people and/or institutions) but rather as sociotechnical constructs in which technology plays a pivotal role, not merely an auxiliary. 

Participation in the conference "Global Conference: Peaceful and Inclusive Elections in a Digital Age"

Organized by the SELECT project of the UNDP-EU Partnership, the "Global Conference: Peaceful and Inclusive Elections in a Digital Age" gathered a large representation of EMBs and global election experts to discuss aspects about the challenges that digital technologies pose on the development of elections. I was invited to participate in a plenary session on "Future Elections: How Technology and Innovations will Shape Elections".
It was a great pleasure to share the table with such interesting speakers and to learn from their experiences in Peru, South Africa, the Philippines or Kyrgyzstan, and to follow the discussions on other topics related to the impacts of digital life in elections and democracy such as the management of disinformation or the arrival of AI.



It was a pleasure to return to one of my favorite places in Europe, Tallinn, to serve as an Invited speaker at the conference on Trust and Reliability of Internet Voting (link, in Estonian), organized by the Standing Committee on Cybersecurity of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. I had the pleasure of giving a speech on "Trust factors in the use of electoral technologies: Inputs from Australia, The Netherlands and Poland” and participating in a round table on "How do countries develop trust and reliable services?" together with Carsten Schurrman, from the IT University of Copenhagen and Tomáš Rabas, from the Czech Technical University.



Very honored to be invited to deliver a Guest lecture on "Internet voting, a matter of trust?" at Ritsumeikan University (Japan), invited by Prof. Uwe Serdült in the frame of his course on e-Society.



Participation at the E-Vote-ID Conference (Luxembourg 2023)

Fruitful participation at the E-Vote-ID conference, where two papers were presented.

  1. Identifying Factors Studied for Voter Trust in E-Voting – A Literature Review (with Yannick Erb, David Duenas-Cid and Melanie Volkamer), examining which factors potentially influence voter's trust in e-voting and i-voting. A total of around 64 potential factors in five categories, ranging from socio-political to technology-related factors, were identified as potential influences of voter trust.
  2. Trust Frameworks in Application to Technology in Elections, the cases of Kenya, Poland, The Netherlands and the USA (with David Duenas-Cid, Leontine Loeber, Beata Martin-Rozumilowicz and Ryan Macias), exploring the creation of trust frameworks around the use of electoral technology, going beyond the traditional approach focusing on the election day to expand the trust and distrust sources to other parts/moments of the electoral cycle.

Both will soon be published by the German Informatics Society




Seminar presentation: Electrust and preliminary results

Happy to be the invited guest at the University of New South Wales Business School seminars and to have the occasion to present the theoretical foundations of the project Electrust and the results of the case study conducted in the Netherlands. Nice debate about how traditional paper elections intersect with digital ones and how to isolate the particularities of each type of election.


Invited Speaker: Is "the Digital" transforming the way we trust? The case of Internet Voting.

Invited by the group on Digital Sociology of the Indian Sociological Association to their lecture series. Presenting some theoretical reflections on how the digitization of societies is renewing the interest in the research on trust and how to frame the topic methodologically for approaching the understanding of internet voting. More to come on this promising relationship with the Indian Sociological Association


Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales!

Continuing with the development of the research, this July and August, I will be hosted at the School of Information Systems and Technology Management at the University of New South Wales Business School. It is very exciting to be hosted by Prof. Lemuria Carter, whose research on trust and technology adoption has been a great inspiration for many researchers, and her papers on the Australian i-voting, are a great departing point for my research

During this period, I will be conducting expert interviews and will run a QMethodology experiment (after the approval of the University Ethical Committee, always)



Presenting the theoretical framework and the results of the Dutch Case study 

On the occasion of the International Sociological Association, the theoretical frame for the analysis of trust and distrust and the results of the case conducted in the Netherlands have been presented (see). The presentation was followed by a very interesting discussion on the different concepts behind the research, the distinction between confidence and trust (posed by Luhmann), and the use of critical trust (by Giddens). Methods and results are great to discuss, but it is always exciting and challenging to discuss theory, and specialized conferences such as ISA are bringing a great space for it. Thanks!

We expanded the discussion by chairing a session targeting "Digitalization, Democracy and Trust", where great papers were discussed and commented (see). Learning from others wok and perspectives!


Visiting Estonia for the second stage of the fieldwork

This week Electrust comes back to Estonia to conduct the QMethodology experiment with users. The aim is to understand how the different arguments for and against the use of internet voting (gathered during our expert interviews in winter), are organized in the mindset of users. Supported by Bogdan Romanov (University of Tartu), we conducted a QMehodology experiment with 25 voters. From an initial set of 248 statements stemming from the interviews and covering all the possible range of opinions, we reduced the arguments to 36 after four iterations.


MSCA Fellow of the Week! 

I am so happy to be nominated MSCA Fellow of the Week for the project ELECTRUST!

No hi ha cap descripció de foto disponible.

David is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Widening Fellow and Assistant Professor at the Gdansk University of Technology. He was awarded an MSCA grant to research the "Dynamics of Trust and Distrust creation in Internet Voting". The research uses discourse analysis and in-depth interviews to map the emergence of trust and distrust and the elements that sustain them. He proposes a theoretical frame that presents trust and distrust as related but not symmetrically opposite constructs and, therefore, they can (and should) be approached separately. The findings will shed light on the dynamics of trust and distrust creation that can be further applied to other technologies. He also serves as President of the Thematic Group on Digital Sociology at the International Sociological Association, General Chair at the E-Vote-ID Conference, and Program Chair at the Digital Government Society Conference 2023. His research interests cover aspects related to Digital Sociology, Sociology of Organizations, and Public Administration, particularly focusing on Democracy, Technology, and Elections.

Being passionate about science outreach activities, David was invited as an expert for the last session of the Postgraduate: "General aspects of political systems and public management" by the Fusades Foundation and the Central American School of Development in El Salvador. He participated at the Researchers Night 2022 with a speech on "Is Internet Voting Possible? How are we voting, and what does it entail?". Lately, he was invited as an expert at the presentation of the Internet Voting Platform of Decidim Barcelona, at the debates of Foresight Democracy, and the dialogues on "Technology, helping or harming modern democracy?" by Intermon Oxfam.
This is David's insight as an MSCA fellow:

"An MSCA is the best way to ensure the time and resources necessary to take the next step in academia, achieve research maturity, and settle as an independent researcher and a potential team leader. Thanks to the MSCA Widening program, I discovered the exciting research environment provided by the Gdansk University of Technology and developed a novel research concept based on building the logical distinction between trust and distrust and using it as a frame for researching internet voting adoption. The visibility and significance of my research have clearly benefitted, widening my career opportunities."

🟦 Learn more about David's project ELECTRUST (Dynamics of Trust and Distrust Creation in Internet Voting) on the Cordis portal: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101038055
🟦 David's profile on Twitter: https://twitter.com/davidduenascid
🟦 David's profile on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/david.d.cid
🟦 David's profile on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-duenas-cid-279ab451/
🟦 David's page: www.davidduenascid.cat


Conference presentation of initial results of the Polish Case study

Together with Prof. Dr. Hab. Magdalena Musiał-Karg (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan), we presented the first overview of the results of the case study developed in Poland, where we interviewed relevant stakeholders and experts on internet voting, electoral management, journalists, politicians, informaticians and experts on cybersecurity.

The presentation took place at the International Conference "Europe of the XXI Century" held at Collegium Pollonicum (Słubice, Poland) and raised an interesting debate on research methodology and the hermeneutics of trust as a prerequisite for meaningful research.


New project publication "Technology and democracy: the who and how in decision-making. The cases of Estonia and Catalonia."

This paper focuses on using technology to improve democracy, comparing the cases of Estonia and Catalonia. Both examples are closely related in their use of technology to further democratize the decision-making processes but have opposite starting points. Estonia’s internet voting system is an offshoot of the comprehensive e-governance system developed by the Estonian government. It is meant to make it more convenient for people to vote and, thus, easier for them to participate in elections. In Catalonia, the online participation system Decidim, initially set up in the city of Barcelona, represents a bottom-up project that emerged from the 15 May protests and aims to make the representative democratic system more direct and participatory. In our comparison, we approach both paradigmatic cases from a theoretical reflection on the ideal types of democracy in relation to how decisions are made and by whom. Both projects have evolved and integrated new features that draw them together. First, internet voting can reach wider portions of society and digitally transform Public Administration. Second, online participation platforms increase the potential for collecting citizens’ proposals and enriching discussions. These features make them more like a mixed model, which, in the current model of representative democracy, creates spaces for more direct and deliberative democracy.

Reference: Borge, R., Brugué, J., & Duenas-Cid, D. (2022). Technology and democracy: the who and how in decision-making. The cases of Estonia and Catalonia. Profesional De La información31(3). https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2022.may.11

Read it in the journal El Profesional de la Información


linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram