The National Electoral Council dedicated the first half of the year to modernize its technology platform. Political organizations, especially those in opposition had insisted on request pending the election calendar for 2012. The president of Venezuela’s CNE, Tibisay Lucena, announced that presidential elections will be on October 7th, 2012, the governors and legislative councils on December 16th of that year, and the mayors and councilors on April 14th, 2013.
Given the created expectation to the possibility of a having a mega-elections, Lucena ruled out that possibility because “it is very difficult for voters,” and also reminded that the locals can not get near the president, as the Venezuelan legislation does not allows it.
The decision not only left out the possibility of uniting all the pending elections, ranging from councilors, governors and mayors through to the presidency of the Republic, but also the setting for gathering the election of the Chief of State and governors.
Among the most significant changes introduced this year is the addition of Integrated Authentication System (UPS), which will reinforce the principle of one voter one vote, because the voting machine is unlocked only when the system has validated the voter data.
To realize the advances in voting technology, the CNE will inject $116 million to acquire 42,000 new biometric identification equipment and some 12,000 SAES-4200 voting machines. It will also review the existing platform to place it also in tune with the new features of the Venezuelan voting system.
The review includes the acquisition of 50,000 new electronic ballots, which will have the electronic membranes redesigned, in order to facilitate the location of the options when voting (they will be larger in size). They will also eliminate the oval selection in those ballots so that voters indicate their preferred option directly on the card of the political party or constituency candidates on their own. After pressing the card, a LED light will turn on to confirm the voter that, in fact, has set the desired option before completing the act of voting.
The CNE Automation Director, Carlos Quintero, said that the system would still be shielded, so that Venezuelan voters can go confident to the polls.
In Venezuela, devices to corroborate electronically the identity of the voter were already used, but the process was not linked to the operation of the voting equipment.
In addition, the SAES-4200 voting machines are not very different from the previous version SAES-4000. The change primarily relates to the energy input of the machine. The new model has an extra possibility of energy supply.
Its necessary to clarify that the SAES voting machine is not related to the Integrated Authentication System (IAS) of the Biometric identification equipment that will be acquired by the Venezuelan electoral body. These unlock the machine only after verifying the identity of the voter. The CNE decided that the acquisition of the new authentication system would be for Smartmatic (supplier of voting machines) in order to ensure that there are no limitations of technical compatibility between systems.