The decision to implement electronic voting in a country is not easy. Governments take years to overcome fears, doubts, financial barriers, even cultural ones, and therefore, take a bet on modernism.
After acceptance of the new technology has been won, nations must face difficult processes and decisions. Choosing the technology that best suits their laws and needs demands a high amount of professional, social and political responsibility, as well as commitment and knowledge of electoral systems.
If the necessary technology is not going to be provided by the country’s electoral organisms, a key mechanism to guarantee success in the implementation of e-voting comes up: a bidding process for the acquisition of software and hardware.
When the public sector releases a call for bids, there are many shadows lurking around, dark political and financial interests moving behind the government. However, assure the success or failure of a multimillion investment, and more importantly, of the preservation of Democracy through its most essential expression, will depend on whether the government can guarantee transparency in the selection of the company that will provide the technology for e-voting.
Keeping in mind these necessities to carry out a clean and efficient call for bids for e-voting, experts recommend certain indisputable conditions in terms of rules, technical aspects and organization. Some of them are:
– the bidding should be public, so it allows competition between as many companies as possible,
– the list of demands should be clear and complete, and it should avoid restrictive specifications,
– proven expertise in the area,
– include a printed receipt of electronic votes to ensure audits,
– request an update of system security standards
If these and other technical conditions are met, it will be possible to select a technology that ensures the advantages of electronic voting: speed, accuracy, auditability and security. In other words, e-voting should guarantee that results will be released within a reasonable length of time in order to avoid suspicion of fraud or manipulation, that each vote will be counted, that the vote will remain secret, and that the automated results can be physically verified in case of emergency.
The importance of respecting the execution of a bid that complies with standards of security and transparency not only reflects the political and social commitment to give a country an automated voting system that is optimal and shielded against fraud. It also expresses the country’s will to present to the world a technology whose precision and security defend democracy over any particular interest.
E-voting has overcome many obstacles, mainly for the sake of winning the acceptance of citizens on the basis of security and transparency. This is why countries in the process of automating their elections (Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Peru are some Latin American examples) must be aware that the selection of electoral technology will be the foundation to support their institutionalism and democracy.