Fighting disinformation in the 2019 Argentine elections


I am sharing this article by the Transparencia Electoral organization, about some “fake news” published in Argentina a few months before elections.

In Brazil, in the 2018 elections, several agencies waged a crusade to disprove false news, usually shared at a high rate. Based on what is found in the media and especially in social networks, it’s obvious that Argentina has this same challenge ahead.

This year’s elections in Argentina have added certain changes as compared to the way they had been customarily carried out. One of them has to do with data transmission (precinct reports) from polling stations in schools or elsewhere.

‘Telegrams’ will no longer be carried by Correo Argentino workers to the digitization and transmission centers, as in previous elections. This year, each one of the schools will become a digitization and data transmission center, to send results directly from the voting stations in some 15,000 schools. In this way, as indicated by Adrián Pérez, the Secretary of Political and Institutional Affairs, “there will be a faster tally, officials will be present at transmission time, and the data flow will be more homogeneous.”

This news has been used by some actors to deliberately fabricate disinformation, even forecasting a purported fraud taking advantage of the new transmission method. In this sense, we have selected some of the (dis)information pieces that have been most viral, with the purpose of dismantling them:

Based on information from the Transparencia Electoral organization.

FAKE

“The software that will be used during the transmission process is called Election 360”

TRUTH

The name of the software is Módulo de Transmisión (Transmission Module), and it will enable Correo Argentino agents to scan and transmit directly from the voting stations in schools, in the presence of the board president and appointed officials.


FAKE

The transmission of the telegram to the computer center incorporates intelligent handwriting recognition software, which edits the information of the telegram using manuscript characters identical to those of the board president”

TRUTH

The scanning and transmission software is not designed to edit or  change any information in telegrams. The function of the software is only to capture and transmit data.


FAKE

“Telegrams are going to be eliminated”

TRUTH

Telegrams will NOT be done away with. The direct transmission from voting centers does not at all change the handling of the precinct reports, ballot boxes, additional documentation nor final tallies, which are of legal value; and is in charge of the Justicia Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Justice).

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Poll workers win big in Philippine elections again


VCM - The Philippines

Source: Newsbytes Philippines

The recent Philippine elections provides an excellent case study on how the proper use of technology can drastically improve the plight of poll workers, long acknowledged as the unsung heroes of elections.

Due to the speed with which election results from precincts were counted and transmitted to the consolidation servers during the country’s midterm elections of May 2019, proclamations for local positions were over in matter of hours. This allowed most poll workers to be safely back at home before midnight of election night.

Since the Philippines began automating vote counting in 2010, poll workers have not only enjoyed shorter working hours but with the system cutting down human intervention to the barest minimum, their exposure to violence and coercion was also greatly reduced.

Automation in the Philippine has already reaped praises from many sectors for fostering the safety and well-being of poll workers. Before the advent of election automation, Philippine poll workers counted and tallied the votes manually, a painstaking process that often took as long as 40 days to finish, and which left the workers extremely vulnerable to intimidation from armed personnel in the payroll of politicians.

This triumph of technology in Philippine elections throws into sharp focus the imperative to address the plight of poll workers elsewhere in the world.  In Indonesia, for example, more than 270 poll workers died due to exhaustion brought about by endless hours of counting in the last elections.  Such a tragedy could have been easily prevented by poll automation.

With the ready availability of technology that works, it behooves election management bodies around the world to act swiftly to improve the welfare of their poll workers.

Mexico and India: one progresses in automation and the other establishes itself as a reference for electronic voting


Asymmetries in the use and application of electoral technology are obvious among some countries; a clear example is represented by Mexico and India. While the first has just decided to advance a process of voting automation for its nationals residing abroad. the second achieved a new Election Day where almost a billion people were called to vote.

In the Mexican case, a project is currently being promoted that will facilitate the suffrage of nationals abroad. The National Electoral Institute (INE) announced it has approved the guidelines that must be followed to guarantee the implementation of an automated remote voting model.

The authorities established that the Internet E-Voting System —as it is called— must include stages and key elements such as cryptographic key, voter authentication, monitoring, decryption and counting of votes, and measures to safeguard and preserve the information.

In addition to these factors, the INE resolved that the system must be auditable in all its stages, so that the parties involved in the elections participate in the audits, namely, independent parties and candidates, in addition to the electoral authorities.

The electoral body has warned that although it expects to implement the new system as soon as possible, the are no guarantees that it will be ready for application in the upcoming 2021 elections.

However, it was pointed out that as a legal mandate it will be fulfilled, because the most recent migratory data reveals that some 11,700,000 Mexicans are residing in other nations, and the idea is to guarantee their political rights.

In view of this project, Mexico could assess what has been attained by Estonia, a country that since 2005 has implemented online voting, and in last March elections at least 44% of the voters could vote using this online system.

 Opposite Sides of the World

While Mexico is just now taking its first steps in automation, between April and May India accomplished the most populous electronic elections in the world.

Official data indicate that the census encompassed more than 900 million voters, of which 67% voted along 38 days, divided into seven different stages completed between April 11 and May 19. These figures, which are not comparable with any other electoral process, explain by themselves why Indian authorities worked to automate the voting system. Only with the help of technology could the suffrage be guaranteed under the same conditions for the whole country.

In that sense, the many geographic and population-based complexities led this nation to become a pioneer in the implementation of electronic voting. Actual adoption began in 1998 and was consolidated in 2004 when electronic voting machines (EVMs) became the only means of voting.

The Indian automated model is based on an electronic device or tablet displaying the list of candidates aligned with an array of switches at the sides. The voter selects his favorite candidates using such switches and casts the vote. The devices are manufactured by two local companies, Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited.