This February, Venezuela becomes the continent’s news focus, as the Coalition for Democratic Unity (a political movement that brings independents and political parties opposing the current government together) is put to the test in primary elections. Since Venezuela is a country whose electoral legislation does not contemplate general primaries nor second round, this opportunity for expression is attractive and innovative to a great part of the population.
These primaries will not only produce Hugo Chávez’s contender for the October 7 presidential elections, but also serve as a democratic exercise to choose unitary national and locals leaders. This election will be done once more through the technological platform (machines and electronic ballots) provided by Smartmatic to the National Electoral Council (CNE), which Venezuelans have known and used since 2004.
In spite of the political polarization that undermines social coexistence in Venezuela, the automated solution has become a faithful ally and a useful democratic tool for all citizens. It has also been a neutral tool, since both protagonist groups of the benefits of popular voting have won and lost with the actual technology.
The opposition has implemented the use of voting machines in two events of their own (April 2010 and February 2012), while the government party used them in May 2010 (they haven’t announced possible internal primaries in 2012 for regional candidates yet). It is logical, then, that political actors support the automated voting system and call their followers to participate. And why shouldn’t they, if most of the presidential pre-candidates and those aspiring to mayoralties and state government posts have gotten their current positions (as governors or deputies) through the very same technology that was criticized by radicals in the past.
The development of multiple electoral processes in Venezuela, plus the paradigm shifts that voters have defied along with the electoral rectors, observers, technical auditors and political groups in more than a decade of automation, have proven the advantages of having a faster and more flexible system than manual voting. But above all, this system is safer and more precise for the quick solving of differences and emission of results in a polarized context.