On Sunday, March 20th, the Argentinian province of Chubut held elections for governor, but several weeks have passed and still the winner hasn’t yet been announced. A recount of votes was forced, because of the close results (a difference of 1500 votes) and the fraud allegations (irregularities in the proceedings, wrong charging of the ballot and empty ballot boxes), but there’s still no winner.
Chubut’s obsolete electoral system unfolded how the manual vote can delay the publication of the results with the faithful will of the voters, and also, how the credibility of the institutions is affected and how the trust in the electoral processes is broken.
Argentina has been wanting for years to modernize the vote. Some provinces already have legislation to automate processes, and even have implemented 25 pilot projects in order to make possible the automation of the elections. How ever, there’s no current national governmental plans that states the adoption of technology that could allow the modernization of electoral processes in this nation.
In the absence of results in Chubut, the debate on the implementation of electronic voting cornered again the citizens’, the parties’ and even the Argentinian government’s attention. While Daniel Scioli, Buenos Aires Province Governor and President of the Peronist Party, warned that “it’s unacceptable” that Chubut has not enabled informatics mechanisms, Florencio Randazzo, Interior Minister, complained that a website hadn’t been enabled for citizens to follow online the results that were taking place in each city.
The discussion on the need of improving the electoral system that could guarantee reliable, transparent and Speedy results is just starting, but there are some examples that show how implemented systems have worked in some provinces. In Ushuaia three referendums using e-voting have been already implemented, but the approval to use this system in municipal election was suspended in the Legislature.
As in the region of Chubut, the changes for automation in Argentina won’t go through not because of the possibilities technology brings, but because of political aspects that have hobbled the process. The loss of control of the system and the weakening of patronage are often enemies of the adoption of voting technology.