Ecuador seeks to match Brazil and Venezuela, the pioneers of electronic voting en South America. In May, the Electoral National Council evaluated three alternatives to automate the electoral process from 2013.
Even though it seems as the first steps to modernize the voting process in the country, reality is that in 2004 Ecuador tested a pilot program with 160 machines supplied by the Brazilian government. The successful results were taken into account for the implementation of electronic vote that started on 2006.
The electoral authorities held a technological fair, where 5 companies (Voting Solutions Inc, Premier Election Solution and Smartmatic, as well as Escuela Politécnica del Litoral and Kruger) presented their proposals for the automation of the electoral process in the country.
However, it was until 2008 when electoral automation gained the status of execution plan, considering adopting Venezuela’s technology to partially technify the voting process of 2009. In that time, Fausto Camacho, spokesperson of CNE informed that the electoral body contacted Venezuela to acquire the loan of 15 thousand machines from Smartmatic. Due to the proximity to the elections this wasn’t possible, but the need of providing a modern, safe and transparent electoral system for the country became an important issue.
Since 2010, the CNE has been leading an aggressive plan that aims at having an electoral technology that adapts to the characteristics of Ecuador. The initial formulas that are being studied are:
– Touch screen, through which the voter chooses the options by pressing with its finger tips and the vote is counted automatically
– The use of electronic urns for printing the vote
– The use of a mechanical pencil, similar to the voting action of the manual vote, which allows the recording of the election into a database.
The initial budget the Ecuadorian government has to acquire this technology is 145 million dollars, which will be invested in a progressive way during the next three years, investing 17 million dollars in 2010. The interest of Ecuador for this technology shows, besides the intention of complying with the law that orders the automation of the elections, that it has developed a plan that accelerates the implementation of e-voting. The political will is the only thing missing for the approval of the resources to make the project viable.
The Ecuadorian electoral process states that the e-vote will give reliability and speed to the results, and will help the environmental depredation. All of this makes us think that in Ecuador everything is settled, the only thing missing is that the citizens benefit from automation.