Technology is a synonym of solution and seeks to facilitate and optimize any human task. This versatility allowed Democracy to use various technological solutions designed to improve the processes involved in any election.
When one thinks about the modernization of electoral processes, the first thing that comes to mind is electronic voting. However, in an election there are many phases where technology has a very important role to achieve the compliance of a schedule, but most importantly, the execution of vital processes for a successful election.
The technological advances may be evaluated in different areas such as information services of electoral processes (websites), voters register data bases, biometric identification of the voters, political parties register, candidates nomination, geographic information systems for the distribution of circuits, and a long list of processes that make of electoral technology a complex and essential branch.
Many countries have integrated technology into their electoral systems, just as had happened with electronic voting. One of the tech tools that have the highest demand is the voter’s fingerprint biometric identification. Counties such as Venezuela, Panama, Brazil, among others, use machines that filter the voter’s identification to avoid impersonation, double voting and other crimes related to voter’s identity.
Brazil has a voting machine with a fingerprint system which enables the vote only when it confirms the voter’s identity. Venezuela has fingerprint readers that are connected to laptops, which identify the voter’s ID and allow voters to carry on with the voting process, just as the Brazilian system. Bolivia is working on a biometric system for voters that will be integrated to the civil registration that will process fingerprints, palms, signatures and photographs. Thanks to this technology, many fraudulent practices (the highest rate in Latin America) have been highly eradicated.
Electoral technology is also widely used in the nomination of candidates. The electoral organisms have adopted systems that enable online nomination, as is the case in Venezuela. During electoral times, the National Electoral Council enables a link on their website for the political parties to register their candidates, filling the data required for each nominee. Even though it’s a requirement to present all the documents in a physical format, it’s permitted to scan them and upload them into the system. This helps to facilitate and accelerate the nominations. The same process can be fulfilled for the registration of party organizations.
Internet has allowed the electoral authorities display all the information so the voters familiarize with the process. The organization’s websites disclose the calendar for the entire process and normative, as well as information on how and where to vote, how to cast a manual or electronic vote, as well as a follow-up of the vote count, as it happens in Brazil. In this country, once the electoral tables are closed, the Superior Electoral Tribunal publishes the results in real time. In some Spanish provinces, if the voters register in the organism’s website, they will receive the provisional results via SMS.
Internet voting is being developed, but already has some exponents. There are many doubts concerning its reliability, but there are also many experiences that register its application, as in the United Kingdom, Estonia and Switzerland, where Internet voting has been used for government elections and referendums, Canada has used it for municipal elections, and the United States and France for primary elections.
All of these examples show merely some of the areas in which electoral technology stand out to provide more specialized software and hardware for every phase of an electoral process. These and other mechanisms that have a recognized success around the globe, have helped break down barriers and allow the expansion of the e-vote, which is on the top of technological advances in electoral issues.