Venezuela renews its electronic voting system


The electoral technology is reinventing itself. After seven years of using the automated system provided by Smartmatic, the Venezuelan National Electoral Council forward a project to modernize its technology platform.

CNE authorities justify the investment of 116 million dollars, given the need to upgrade the computers, as every machine has its life cycle. They ensure that the advances developed will allow to continue offering security, flexibility and efficiency, but with the renewed system tools.

Among the most significant innovations in the platform are the incorporation of an Integrated Authentication System (UPS), equipped with biometric devices to be used during the act of voting, so that the voting machine can be unlocked only when there is a voter registered to vote in that table. Venezuela already used devices to electronically verify the voter’s identity, but the process was not linked to the operation of voting equipment.

Also, the electronic membranes (ballots) will be redesigned, to facilitate the location of the options when voting (enlarging their size). They will also eliminate the oval selection, so that voters indicate directly their choice on the card. After pressing the card, a LED light will turn on that will confirm the voter that, in fact, he or she has set the desired option before completing the act of voting.

As for the voting machines, the SAES-4200 bears no major difference with preceding version SAES-4000. The change primarily relates to the power input of the machine. The new model has an extra energy supply option.

The SAES-4200 has some notable features. As it is a last generation touch screen voting machine, its has extensions for electronic ballots, different levels of security, built-in printer (for audit and counting of votes) and a module especially designed for people with disabilities. The CNE is making a census to determine how many voters there are with disabilities, and what are the predominant types.

It is necessary to clarify that SAES voting machines are not related to the Integrated Authentication System (UPS) machines of biometric identification, acquired by the Venezuelan electoral body. However, there is compatibility between the two. It’s still unknown what technology the CNE will decide to buy for the UPS. If Smartmatic’s machines were selected (voting machines supplier) there would be no limitation, but if another company is chosen to provide the equipment, it must be tested for compatibility.

The modernization project of biometric identification involves the purchase of 42.000 new machines, while modernization of the electoral ballots will involve the acquisition of 50.000 new electronic ballots. The renewal of the voting machines will by done by adding 12.000 new voting machines SAES-4200.

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