Electronic voting: An expanding market


If you consider the 180 countries that are attached to the United Nations (UN), at least thirty of them have a legislation that provides for the automation of the electoral process (acquisition of voting, counting, aggregation and transmission of results.) Although the figure is perceived small, reality is that the market is booming, as dozens of nations are working to get the technology and strengthen the main feature of democracy: voting.

The advance of voting technology in the last two decades has been marked mainly by the performance of electronic voting in countries that use it. However, experts point out that the progress of automation at present is no longer dependent of the technological possibilities, but by the cultural and the political will of each nation. There are some cases like Ireland, which despite having invested in the acquisition of a system and have the law, the country has not decided to use yet.

Having overcome the obstacles involved in developing a technology that adapts to the complexities of the electoral process, and even the legal technicalities of each country, the new electronic voting challenge is to overcome political and cultural interests to spread around the globe.

That path has been tested by various countries. For example, in Venezuela the ES & S machines deployed by Indra during the period of 1997 to 2004, were used to sought only automated counting, even when the law precluded that the vote was 100% automated. It was only until 2004, after intense debates and disputes, that electronic voting managed to win with Smartmatic’s machines.

There are other special cases, such as the Philippines, a country that has all the legislation to introduce electronic voting. However, for purely cultural implications, it was decided this year to insist on manual voting, but counting and aggregation were automated. With this mechanism, the country was able to publish results in less than 24 hours, when traditionally they spent days and even weeks to know the winners.

Besides Venezuela, there are two other countries that stand out, Brazil and India, primarily because their experiences have been pioneers in the world, but also because they have a third of the world’s population. These countries have been using electronic voting for many years now, and have successful experiences with this technology, having drawn geographical cultural and population complexities.

We can also mention the United States, where each state is responsible for administrating their own elections. There is room for more than three thousand opportunities of implementation of electronic voting and almost all the variations have used: from the manual and automated counting votes, to fully modernized elections. Even voting via Internet has been currently tested.

The landscape of automation is vast and complex. Each country has a history, and it proves the versatility of electronic voting, but what is relevant to this account, is that various nations are setting the standard that gives new impetus to the market of electronic voting: Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, Spain , Bolivia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Belgium and other nations, are refining their laws and assessing which system meets their standards and qualities to join the group of nations, which not only preserves the right to vote, but seeks to perfect it.

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