The fight that Colombia has led for years over the implementation of electronic voting seems to be close to a successful goal. Colombia has come a long way, and the trials faced prove it. There has been a lack of political will, a very necessary aspect when making governmental decisions. However, it seems that the Colombian Government has begun to understand, little by little, the advantages of voting automation.
Recently, the first forum on electronic voting was held at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (at its Bucaramanga campus) by an initiative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Important aspects of the statutory law were discussed, as it is expected to be applied in said voting system.
During the discussions held in this activity, scholars, governors, congressmen, magistrates and even the head of the National Registry of the Civil State, Carlos Ariel Sánchez Torres, agreed about the urgency and need to change the Electoral Code.
The implementation of electronic voting contemplates biometric identification (fingerprint scan system), electoral registry, and a reform to the candidates’ inability regime, among others.
Senator Juan Manuel Galán Pachón has fought for this initiative, and has reaffirmed that the goal is for Congress elections in 2014 to be carried out with automated voting.
The National Registrar also celebrated the advantages of automation. He insisted that counting will be easier with e-voting, and therefore the results will be more reliable.
During the forum, the advantages of electronic voting were highlighted, among them: faster and more reliable results that will diminish the margin of error or human manipulation; reduction of crimes such as identity theft and ballot stuffing through biometric identification. W Radio interviewed Minister of Internal Affairs Germán Vargas Lleras. You can hear his opinions (in Spanish) here: 1642993.mp3
Participants in the discussion pointed out that the government will have to make an investment rounding 500 million dollars, but highlighted the long term future savings they would obtain.
The new Colombian electoral code would involve a new system to elect jury, which will be chosen randomly. It also contemplates the modification of the ineligibility compliance regimen, so that there can be clarity as to whom cannot be chosen before the elections.
Furthermore, there is a proposal for the complete removal of political advertisements the day before elections. The new code would contemplate sanctions to transgressing candidates. Another important aspect is the extension of the Election Day calendar, so that it can go from 7:00am to 5:00pm. Under the actual legislation, polling locations close at 4:00pm, regardless of whether there are still voters in line or not.