Colombia from the conformity of the unofficial to the modernization of voting


Everyone in Colombia welcomed the 58 minutes record set up by the National Registry to issue the provisional results of 95.3% of the polling stations, just after the close of the presidential elections, last June 20th.

No doubt, to quickly disclose electoral information stops any possibility of civil disorder, increases the credibility of the system and strengthens democracy. However, in Colombia the joy should be dosed, for data submitted to the country are preliminary, or what is the same, are not official and therefore debatable or questionable.

In light of this reality, the “speed record” of the election results does not look so appealing, and if we move to what happened in the legislative elections of March 14, any joy vanishes, since in these elections several days were spent to learn about who would occupy the seats of deliberative bodies, and even today, due to the prevailing electoral system, only 90 charges have been officially assigned when it voted to elect 102 seats in the Senate and 166 in the House of Representatives.

Since we have previously noted that a voting system that is feasible to choose a position, but is totally ineffective to permit the election of the country as many positions as required, should not be applied, especially when technological development, and even the Law, requires effective mechanisms available, transparent, secure and fast.

However, it is not the case of Colombia, in which even though the regulations that laid the groundwork for introducing electronic voting, which adds six years of delay in implementation, is still using the old manual voting that can only deliver first results of unofficial character.

Last Sunday, after the closing of the polls (4:00 pm), began what the Registry calls precount. “It is the process of transmission, consolidation and rapid dissemination of election results the same day of the election. This process has and informative value for the public to know the results, but has no legal value. ”

In this procedure, when the votes are closed, the judges count the votes cast in the ballot box and fill two sheets of information. The first is the “vote counter”, which consists of a series of boxes where you mark one by one the votes of each candidate and give a final total. This total is placed in the other form (which is the official record.) The Data of the “vote counter” are transmitted to the central telephone information and is what is made known to the public. The day after the election, the formal scrutiny starts in order to assure that the resulting information matches the records.

Although fast, this scheme has shown that it is not good for complex electoral processes, and even for a single presidential office, in recent weeks as the public distrust felt when it became apparent substantial differences between the preliminary announced that it is counted manually, aggregated results with information systems.

Colombia faces the challenge of modernizing its electoral system and voting arrangements. The law exists, the willingness of the population has already been proven successful simulations of electronic voting, just hope that the political will yielded to the national need and the requirement citizen. The 2011 is near, but there is time to decide and the country fails to submit to unofficial election results, when you can keep them safe, transparent and timely.

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