2012 starts with new hopes for electronic voting around the world. Of the thirty countries that currently use automated voting systems, several will re-test the transparency and security of the electronic vote, but also other nations will prepare to meet the challenge of organizing their first automated elections and others will work in giving legal support to automation.
Having looked at the big picture, 2012 will add achievements to voting technology, but it’ll also test the political will of governments that promote the most effective, efficient and safe way than currently exists to exercise the right to vote: electronic voting.
Among the countries that are betting on join the still selected group of nations with automated voting are Mexico and Peru; meanwhile Dominican Republic will take a first step, automating a phase of the process -tallying-, and in Paraguay the authorities will debate a new legislation to enable electronic voting.
If they complete the programs they are set up, these Latin American nations will be an example of initiative. Doubt looms, since the responsibility and commitment of government authorities will play a key role in providing the resources to meet the processes and in guaranteeing safety in the adoption of electronic voting.
A case of special attention is Mexico, where in Jalisco -one of three states besides Mexico City and Coahuila that employ electronic voting- after an arduous struggle it was approved a hotly contested bid to automate the vote for the July 1st presidential elections. Although the process of the implementation is unknown, the expectation is that the program will run gracefully, since it will help to win the trust of the electorate, and therefore the nationwide implementation of electronic vote.
In Peru, the opportunity to prove that the electronic voting system designed by the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) works, will happen in September when the eighth recall of municipal and regional authorities will be held. The electoral authority assures to be ready to repeat the success of the experience lived last June in the province of Cañete. The approval of resources will be crucial for the South American country to continue moving forward.
Meanwhile, Dominican Republic, will take a key step into building trust to modernize their voting process. On May 20th, 2012, when the presidential elections will take place, is expected to automate the tallying as a preliminary phase to the automation of the whole process for 2016.
Another country that expects to change in 2012 is Paraguay. There, the political forces are pushing for the approval of a law regulating the vote of citizens living abroad, so that they can exercise this right in the general elections in 2013. The expectation is that the parliament advances the bill and that this will open a window for implementing online voting instead of voting by mail or in embassies. So far there is no decision, but time is running out for the Superior Court of Electoral Justice (TSJE) to have enough time to organize the elections.
Finally, we close with the revalidation of electronic voting in Venezuela and the United States. In both nations there will be presidential elections, but also in Venezuela the opposition will hold primaries to choose their candidate.
These two countries have shining examples when it comes to the automation of their processes. Venezuela, in partnership with Smartmatic, has more than twelve automated elections. Machines provided with biometric identification devices, touch screens, electronic ballots, paper voting receipt, tallying and transmission of results are some of the strengths that Venezuela’s robust system has.
In the U.S., there are multiple companies involved, since local authorities (counties) are the ones who decide which electoral system it will be used; this accounts for more than 3140 voting systems that are very different one from each other. Among the models used in the US, we can find machines with touch screens, some with and without a paper voting receipt as well as ballots for voting and optical scanners for scrutiny