Right now, there is a group of Latin American countries on the path towards electoral automation. Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico and Panama are some of them. All of them have made the decision to implement certain advances in their electoral systems, which starts by adjusting the law. Once this process is done, the analysis of the necessary steps to change the way voting is carried out begins.
Successful cases of automation in the world have been carried out with provision, including having the governmental authorities adjust their choice of electoral technology to what is most convenient to their system. Therefore, an evaluation of the local infrastructure must take place, taking into account any limiting factors that might appear. Also, its sustainability in time must be considered, and then the search and comparison of offers in the market begins.
Finding the most suitable automated model can be onerous, as there are various companies that provide this service, but when it comes to choosing, the strictest desire to acquire a system that guarantees security, secrecy and transparency of suffrage must prevail. The chosen system should also guarantee the advantages of e-voting: safety, speed, and auditability.
In order to fulfill this requirement, it is crucial to carry out a tender that complies with the highest standards, that is, a bid that contemplates an international call for electoral technology providers, who must prove their experience on the matter and are capable of offering an electronic voting model that is flexible and adjusted to the legal, technical, financial, and even idiosyncratic needs of the nation.
In this process, countries will find multiple opportunities to implement technology onto different stages prior to e-voting, which can become an incentive to speed up processes for the sake of the system’s total automation. For instance, the voter registry is one of the pre-electoral processes with strong technological assistance, which can include the electronic storage of citizens’ identity for an immediate comparison with the voter or support on automated electoral rolls.
The process of candidate nomination, which is the formal step through which political parties or other organizations apply for the registry of their candidates, can also make use of technology by automating the registry of candidate information and the different stages of the process (presentation, resignation, alliances, etc.).
Another technological advantage with a big chance of expansion in the world is the biometric authentication of the voter. This process allows, through the use of equipment designed to capture each voter’s fingerprint, to identify the person and thus avoid identity theft or double voting. Finally, two of the vital stages of every election, scrutiny and tallying, can also use the aid of technology before implementing electronic voting, with which speed and accurate results jump out as unquestionable benefits of automation.
Having adopted some of the pre-electoral technologies, transition to electronic voting becomes natural. At this point, it is worth highlighting that the process of substitution of traditional voting for electronic voting implies in most of the cases a stage of coexistence between both methods of vote emission. As a result, best practices suggest a progressive application, combined with pilots that allow people to become familiar with technology and check how voting can become safer and fairer.
Challenges are diverse in electoral matters, but it is necessary that the electoral body takes care of all the aspects concerning automation. Technology can be used to facilitate all these activities, but its correct and massive use will be what makes a difference against manual processes.