It is well known that one of the advantages brought by electronic voting is the substantial reduction in the use of paper, which not only saves money but helps to preserve the ecosystem and the planet.
Countries such as India, the Philippines, Belgium, Brazil and Venezuela have had a successful experience migrating to electronic voting, now Spain is evaluating whether to take this step; and one of the arguments that have been taken into consideration is the decreased investment of printed voting cards. In Spain, the Ministry of Internal Affairs decided to cut down on voting card expenses for the November 20 general elections in 2011, which would entail a 5.8% of savings compared to 2008.
Many countries have come to understand that they can have transparent processes and preserve the secrecy of the vote even if costs are reduced. Implementing automation would allow the safeguarding of the voting process, ensuring its authenticity and the integrity of all the electronic documentation.
However, countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador have been on the way to automation for years. One of the reasons for doubts to arise is the cost that the migration from one system to the other would entail. It would be a change from a traditional system that depends entirely on paper and requires the participation of an enormous human component that is not environmentally friendly, among other things, to a new one where date are stored and transmitted electronically with no need for paper and less people working on the process.
The Electoral Systems and Computing Manager for the National Office of Electoral Processes in Peru, Jorge Luis Yrivarren, maintains that e-voting would reduce or eliminate paper costs and the amount of polling stations: “The voting capacity for an polling station is certainly superior to that of a traditional or manual one, as the latter holds a maximum capacity of 200 voters and the waiting line is longer. However, an e-voting station can hold up to four booths, and if each booth gets 600 voters at most, they add up to 2400 people per station. Part of the savings is just that.” He added that installing a polling station can take up to 15 minutes, and it would take just as long to close it at the end of the electoral day.
Likewise, automation experts in Mexico state that even though it is true that e-voting could entail considerable expense during its introduction, it does add up to big savings in the long run.
Little by little, technology is replacing paper as it reinforces participation and democracy in voting processes for associations, soccer teams, shareholders’ meetings, etc. This way its use will go from macro to micro scales.