Electoral observation is a mechanism agreed upon by governments and institutions in order to evaluate the quality and fairness of electoral processes. Technological advancements in voting systems have had their impact on these organizations that they have started to seek tools of design and application of a standardized methodology, as is the case of the OAS Mission.
The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States created a manual intended for short and long-term monitors in highly automated elections; particularly technicians specialized in different key topics in an electoral process.
When systems are automated, the methodology contemplates the evaluation of different phases that contain technological complements: registration of candidates and political organizations, electoral roll registration, and cartography, as well as the modernization of all the necessary documentation for the process of consolidation of a reliable and safe technological and communications infrastructure, the incorporation of transmission systems for the preliminary electoral results, the efficient distribution of new systems among all recipients, especially among voters with more difficulties to assimilate and implement these instruments, and the update of regulatory standards.
Besides, the manual stipulates that the following aspects must be complied with in e-voting systems: authentication, one voter one vote, vote secrecy, impossibility of coactions, precision, verification (printed receipt of voting), neutrality, auditability, reliability, flexibility, accessibility, usability, cost efficiency, verifiability, invulnerability, openness, and economy.
The OAS Electoral Observation Mission also has a guideline for their observers, which makes emphasis on e-voting. Observers must answer the following questions when dealing with automated voting: Is there a high level of trust from the citizens and other parties involved in the election in e-voting? Does the e-voting system facilitate an election according to international standards? Does the e-voting system require an auditable paper trail to verify election results? Is there adequate protection against tampering or interference in the e-voting process? Does the use of e-voting allow for trustworthy and efficient monitoring? Is there adequate information for the voter about the use of the electronic equipment? Has the electoral staff been properly trained, and is there enough technical assistance available? What procedures are there to insure and safeguard the electronic data? These and other questions must be answered.
The Carter Center also has experience in electoral observation of automated elections. Their points of reference are the 2006 Presidential Elections in Venezuela, and elections held in countries like Philippines and China.