Venezuela Renews Biometric Identification System

After five years, and when they thought it was a passed issue, returns to the fore the debate about the electronic secret vote in Venezuela. The reason is that the National Electoral Counsel proposed to incorporate the Integrated Authentication System (SAI), a mechanism provided for fingerprint readers (biometric identification) that allow the voting machine can only be unlocked with the footprint of registered voters to vote in that table.

The political actors lit the alarms of the Officers of the Democratic Unity (MUD), instance that knits together all the opposition parties, demanded explanation from the electoral entity. In a meeting with all the partidist organizations, included the government, CNE’s information manager, Carlos Quintero, affirms that the changes for the voting system, including the acquisition of new biometric identification equipment will not affect the secrecy of the vote.

Quintero said that the implementation of the SAI does not violate the country’s electronic secrecy of the vote: “These devices do not store information. These are machines that scan fingerprints to verify the voter’s identity through a data validation program”. He insisted that the voting machines are programmed to record votes randomly, “Which makes it impossible to create a logical sequence of votes stored in the machines.”

Members of opposition parties have stressed the importance of the new system is not used to intimidate voters. Hence, the importance of ensuring the safeguarding the secrecy of the vote.

Venezuela’s electoral body will advance technical polls with the parties and already have explained that there will be changes in some audits, for example, the pre-clearance audit, with which it is found that voting machines were properly programmed with the software. In this review we provide a replica of the voting process, transmission and tallying, in order to verify the accuracy of the voter’s vote reflected on the voucher vote, the tally sheets and the data processed by the system.

In addition, other audits will be done to review the data to be loaded to the voting machines. All these controls, according to experts of the Electoral Power, will allow the different political organizations to verify the reliability of the voting system. It is important to note that Venezuela is the country where more audits are done to the electoral process.

A member of the MUD to the CNE, Vicente Bello, assured Venezuelans that there is no way to know who someone voted for. He explained that the CNE confirmed that the voters registration that enters to the polling station, and the file of the votes cast on voting machines will be made according to computer applications and data management that have been used since the Presidential Election in 2006.

This application has been used and audited (by the technical experts of the political parties) in five different elections or referendums: the presidential in 2006, the referendums in 2006 and 2009, regional election in 2008 y parliamentary in 2010. Bello insisted that those applications where developed to keep the secret vote, avoiding that someone could establish the sequence that the voters deposited their votes.

For example, Vicente Bello highlight that the voting machine establish the “time of the transaction”, that is today, the time when the voter exercises his right, is one hour, the same as when you turn on the machine in the election day. That means that voters are registered as if they had come all at the same time.


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