With Providers Like Dominion, E-Voting Loses Prestige

E-voting has earned the trust it needed, thus preparing the field for more and more nations to decide to work on its implementation. The cases of Colombia and Russia (to name a few), where the necessity of automating elections to offer electoral guarantees to their citizens has become clear, are already well known.

However, it is fair to clarify that there are aspects that must be kept in mind in the way an automated system is implemented, as well as the conditions of the nations,. Recently in Palm Beach County, Florida, the electoral body declared victory for many candidates. Some days later, it was found out that other candidates were the actual winners. The election supervisor, Susan Bucher, stated that Dominion, the company in charge of the automation of the process, was at fault. The problem was a lack of synchronization between the lists of candidates and the Dominion software, which is why there was an error in the identification of the scrutiny.

In order to avoid this kind of critical flaws —imagine how it must be to declare a candidate President and one week later having to say the real winner is somebody else—, countries must evaluate very carefully the companies in charge of implementing e-voting. It is very important that the selected company has a successful track record and precise, safe and reliable technology. To that end, a wide and clean bidding process must be guaranteed. We recently wrote about the case of Jalisco, Mexico, where the electoral power granted a contract to an inexperienced company (Pounce), and it took more than a month longer than expected only to deliver the machines.

In order to carry forward a clean and efficient bid for e-voting, experts recommend normative, technical and organizational conditions which they deem essential. Some of them are: a public bid, which allows as many companies as there can be in the field to compete; the consideration of proven experience in the area, the inclusion of printed voting receipts in order to guarantee suffrage auditing, and the request for updated security norms for the systems.

On the other hand, there are nations (less developed than the United States, by the way) where voting security and the reliability of the elections are guaranteed with state-of-the-art technology. Among the automation methods that are used for the preservation of the ballot, there are systems that offer voting receipts (like the one in Venezuela, provided by Smartmatic), which allows both the voter to validate his/her vote as well as all those in the polling station to audit the results from any voting machine.

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