The influence of technology in the electoral process is booming. This boom is revealed with the various countries that adopted the computerization of elections, and strengthened in 2010 -and in many cases, improved their systems-, to give each nation, rapid and transparent results.
The balance of last year shows that 30 countries from the United Nations (UN), have implemented technological mechanisms to comply the electoral processes. In Latin America the electronic vote has been consolidated in Brazil and Venezuela. Meanwhile, in Europe, the most advanced countries in this aspect are Switzerland and Belgium, and in Asia, the Philippines and India are leading the trend.
Up next we will look at some details of the countries where the electronic vote is not an option, but the best mean to achieve trustable electoral results.
Brazil: In last year’s elections, more than 400.000 machines were disposed for the 135 million voters of the country. After the closure of the process (two hours later), the results for the new elected President, as well as the elected Congress deputies, were known. The Superior Electoral Court was in charge of designing the electoral system, which has been exported and implemented by other nations. The system allows a fast transmission and aggregation of the results, but the machines do not print the proof of vote.
Venezuela: In 2010 the country lead legislative elections. The automated system provided by Smartmatic and that has served a dozen of elections since 2004, consists of machines and electronic ballots that allow fast and secure elections. With this system, every voter receives its print proof of vote which is introduced into a conventional urn which can be counted (audited) at the end of the process. Venezuela is the country with more audits in the world over its electoral system, before and after any election. For example, once an election is finished, more than 50% of the shelter boxes that hold the printed proof of votes are opened. These proofs are compared with the electronic results that are registered in the machines. It’s worth to notice that recently in the United States there have been petitions to allow auditing between 3% and 5% of the machines.
United States: With the recent elections held in this country, a major renovation of the electoral technology took place. Old lever machines and punch cards were replaced in many states by electronic vote machines that use touch screens or mixed systems, allowing manual vote and electronic count. Dozens of companies provided their machines and technologies, such as Premier, Elections Systems & Software, and Hart lnterCivic.
Belgium: In mid-2010, the European pioneer in e-voting used once again this technology for the elections held in this period. The Belgian system is based in the delivery of a magnetized card that the voter must introduce in a voting machine that reads the electoral ballot. Each vote is marked with an optical pencil, and once the voter confirms its choice, it is perfectly registered. The vote is stored and encrypted in the machine once the voter removes its card. Thanks to the success of this process, countries like Estonia and Bulgaria adopted similar technologies. In late 2010, the Ministry of Interior of Belgium started to ahead a bidding process that takes over two years, to give an electoral automation company the rights to develop a prototype of a voting machine and a pilot for the elections of 2012.
Switzerland: With a proven experience in presential electronic vote ((the vote that is exercised in an electoral college), the system jumped to remote voting, and in last November, citizens were able to vote from home or anywhere with an Internet connection. Internet voting or remote voting found a place, from where it will probably continue expanding towards other places of the world.
Philippines: The archipelago consisting of more than 7 000 islands used the electronic vote for first time last year. With a history of violence because of the the delay in the publication of the results, in 2010, within 24 hours, the winners of the elections were announced. Over 80 thousand machines were installed in the country, and the results were known in a record time, and later audited. Thanks to the guarantees offered by the system, more than 80% of registered voters went to the polls.