A few days ago, electronic voting made its debut in Panama. The country not only joined the Latin American elite with automated elections, but it also became an example of inclusion for the region and the world, selecting an indigenous region as the premier location to use electoral technology for voting.
The decision of the Electoral Tribunal (TE) was that the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé would elect the General Cacique, three Regional Chiefs, seven local chiefs and the Buglé Special Cacique through an electronic voting system designed by the government, in order to extend its application to the whole country from 2016.
The process was carried out specifically in the table 298 provided in the school Quebrada Guabo, where there were 400 Indians eligible to vote. The system used is similar to that used in other countries: after identifying the voter, it receives a card to activate the machine with touch screen.
According to TE, the machine displays on the screen voting options, and the voter must press the box of its choice and then press the signal to continue, until finishing with the different ballots. In the event that the voter is wrong, he or she must touch the cancel option and repeat the procedure. If the citizen does not want to exercise his or her vote for any of the disputed charges, he or she can select the blank ballot option, and at the end, the machine will print the ballots in a paper voucher to be deposited in an urn.
The dynamics of electronic voting was so simple and efficient that the Electoral Tribunal reported no difficulties or complications to the voters. However, it is noteworthy that this was possible thanks to the training program of the voting population, which could even refresh their memory before voting, using machines arranged in the polling place for this purpose.
Given the results, election officials described the process as successful, because although electronic voting was implemented in just one of the 337 tables, optimal performance was both technically, and logistically, in terms of knowing the count, was also positive as it took less than an hour after the closing of the table.
The Panamanian experience puts to the test many Latin countries, as it not only ventured to make an automated voting experience, but also defeated in the first attempt, the fear of exposing a population with different levels of instructional technology. Panama gambled and won, and now travels at a steady pace toward the modernization of the vote.