This week, elections technology company Smartmatic announced its partnership with The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS), a non-profit organization working to promote innovative ideas and processes to improve public health with a global scope.
According to the press release, the team is made up of electoral and epidemiological experts, and the goal is to provide electoral authorities with a set of protocols and best practices to prevent and control the transmission of the coronavirus in elections. Smartmatic has identified more than 40 stages during an electoral process where there is a risk of contagion; and TIPS has worked on scientific protocols to minimize the spread of various epidemics. This alliance must be regarded as a comprehensive solution for achieving electoral continuity.
Presently, more than 60 countries have decided to postpone elections for fear of a new outbreak of the virus, others are not clear about how to proceed in a pandemic scenario like this one we are now experiencing. Even though some countries and territories have obtained positive results in the decision to continue with their electoral processes, not all those who have taken this step have been fortunate.
A successful case, South Korea, with the aim of avoiding crowds, took a series of strict sanitary measures, which were applauded by other countries. Even United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on April 15 declared in a statement that “The Republic of South Korea’s dedication to democratic values in the face of a global pandemic is a hallmark of a truly free, open and transparent society.” There was a historical turnout of 65.1% of the register. While in France, which also held elections under similar circumstances, turnout decreased dramatically: 55% of citizens abstained from voting in the March 15 municipal elections.
It is worth noting that each country has its own idiosyncrasy, and the measures to carry out elections in these times must be analyzed by experts both in health and in elections, and adapted to the particularities of each region. Each phase of the electoral process must be protected, both the production of ballots, as well as the voting and subsequent counting of votes, consolidation and publication of results.
In this sense, the various organizations and public or private companies must focus their resources on guiding electoral authorities in the search for solutions and alternatives that allow them to continue with democratic processes.
There is something in which commissions from different parts of the world, NGOs , academics, and electoral experts have concurred in recent weeks , and it is that both going ahead with an election as well as delaying it involve significant risks, not only for public health but also for Democracy. It is to be hoped that authorities make good decisions, and adopt the most appropriate measures to protect both aspects. The solutions, the companies and the experts are there.