Belgium: the pioneer of electronic voting


The nineties hadn´t yet  come and Belgium already experimented with voting machines. A pioneer in the use of technology for the exercise of suffrage, in 1991 the country completed its first election using electronic elements and just past June 13 it used again an automated system, not only to comply with an election day, but also through the electronic voting, trying to solve an acute political crisis that it is tougher due to the fact that voting is compulsory in the country, there are three official languages and there will be five simultaneous elections.

In this post we like to expose the automated system that is employed by one of the most advanced countries in e-voting practices in Europe, and to do justice, in the world.

In Belgium the electoral process, except for the voter’s identification, is fully automated. It begins with the delivery of a magnetic card that the voter must enter into a voting machine that exposes the ballot. Each of the votes is issued with a stylus (pointer-laser light) and once the citizen confirmed that its choice is perfectly recorded, he or she removes the card that is inserted into an electronic ballot box where the votes are stored and encrypted for each voter. At the end of the day, the urn will scrutinize each of the elections and bring the number of votes obtained by candidates in each polling place.

The way Belgians vote is described as fast and simple. However it took many years to perfect the system, which allows a variety of security and transparency elements passing through digital signatures, picture of the voter and two voting cards.

Several companies have worked in Belgium in the implementation of the automated mechanism. The first was Dzine, and currently two different systems coexist, the so-called Digivote-system (Steria company) and Jitessystem (Stesud Company). To simulate the act of voting in this country, the electoral body placed since 2007 a link that allows anyone experience how they vote in this European country http://www.verkiezingen2007.belgium.be.

For the recent elections more than seven million voters were called. Not everyone uses an electronic system, mainly because of linguistic and political differences, but penetration is substantial: in the region of Brussels and the German-speaking cantons, all voters use electronic voting, while in the Flanders region 49% of the electorate and the French 20% will use this technology. The results are announced, even 15 minutes after the process is closed.

Due to the success of the system, several European countries have followed the example of Belgium and today, in the old continent automated voting is used in countries such as Estonia and Bulgaria. Netherlands and Ireland advance in its implementation.

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