Voting technology is myth-proof

Training programs are vital to the efficiency of the electronic voting process.

The penetration of e-voting has been followed by the doubts about it being cleared; however, some of these doubts have been elevated to the category of myths. Beyond studies, theories or simulations, the automation of electoral processes (present in more than 30 countries today) has been able to refute in practice all the criticisms against its validity, one by one; it has proven that voting through machines is not only possible, but it also safeguards all the guarantees inherent to voting: it keeps the vote free, universal, direct and secret.Although the successful application of e-voting around the world contradicts the suggestions and affirmations of several specialists and politicians, some ideas are still widespread. Two of the ones used more often to stop automation have to do with the age of the voters: the assumption that technology alienates senior citizens, and that this same technology is not enough to encourage the youngest demographic, who are traditionally unwilling to vote.

Both theories belong to the arsenal that is usually deployed to pressure those countries that wish to modernize their electoral systems. However, technology has always proven itself in fields as disparate as finances, mass distribution systems, the car industry or banking, and it has done as well when it comes to electoral matters.

A proof of this is that countries where e-voting is in advanced stages, such as Brazil, India, Estonia and Venezuela, voter participation is the same all over the age spectrum; on the contrary, the use of technology has promoted turnout. Public opinion studies carried out in Venezuela show that, consistently, close to 90% of the population habilitated to vote (over 18 years of age) considers that using voting machines is simple; this idea is held by people of all socio-economic strata and all age groups. Besides, 75% of the people surveyed prefer automated elections over manual ones, naming their speed, transparency and trust in their results as reasons.

Technology can be a magnet that pulls the youth toward the polling stations.

The attacks against electronic voting based on the premise that the elderly have a hard time understanding automated processes (and that said processes can drive away voters) have been proven wrong in all these countries. The development of machines and automated ballots actually makes voting simpler and adequate information policies together with voting simulations have contributed to make the voting population knowledgeable about the process, so they can participate in it efficiently.

Another sector that has been influenced by e-voting is the youth. In these countries, voting participation by the youth is comparable to those in other age groups, thus proving wrong the thesis that technology has failed to catch that sector of the population.

It was a recently announced that 1 out of 4 people in the world use voting machines to elect their representatives and leaders, a figure that is bound to grow given the known vices of manual voting (inconsistency in the voting registries, replacement of votes, tallying mistakes), and the fact that e-voting has advanced to the point of eliminating barriers to those with motor, visual or auditory disabilities.

There are no valid excuses against automated voting, and there are a significant number of countries already in line to try and analyze which system better adapts to their characteristics and laws. Such is the future; any political or economic interests that oppose it will be eventually removed by reason. Voting must be preserved, and technology is the right ally for it.


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