On July 1st atypical elections were held in Valle del Cauca to elect a Governor. Ubéimar Delgado’s victory, former senator and former representative of the Chamber, supported by seven political parties, occurred going over the political machinations of Juan Carlos Abadía, former Governor of the state, who was removed from office, and Juan Carlos Martínez Sinisterra, former congressman, who is currently in jail. They controlled the state for five years.
During the elections there was a high level of abstention, because of the political instability experienced during the last years, loss of credibility experienced by political parties, the short period of time the campaign and the schedule indicated a holiday. These factors caused Valle del Cauca to have one of the highest levels of electoral abstention ever seen: 83,99%. Fraud intended to be committed in these elections also adds up.
According to public reports, the intention was to get into the system of the contracted company to transmit the results, in order to change them before they could be officially transmitted. Grossly, coordinated by Sijin and the attorney’s office, 13 devices were found in the Calima Real Hotel in Cali, 33 cell phones and 26 SIM cards, which were intended to be used to have access to the voting pre-counting. At the end 6 people who were linked to entities like the Registry, the National Electoral Council and the MIO party, were arrested; whose lawyers later announced they would help justice to take down an alleged “cartel” within the governmental entities watching over the elections.
With regards to reliability and security, an efficient electronic voting system will enable the exclusion of human intervention in multiple stages of the process and prevent the Achilles heel of these elections: pre-counting. For example, this event to elect the new Governor of Valle del Cauca would have been different if the electronic voting system had been used, because it was exactly in that stage that they tried to manipulate data.
Likewise, it would provide technological options to detect human fraud situations (attempt to change results or intervention in programming or data submission); it would eliminate null votes; it would eliminate human errors in scrutiny; therefore it would provide a higher level of security in the results consolidation and scrutiny. The use of electronic systems during the electoral processes would not only allow stepping forward to security and reliability, but also to an important technological progress for society.
We would have to ask ourselves if the electronic voting platform assessed by the Colombian Government had been implemented in elections like the event of July 1st in Valle del Cauca, it would have changed the fortune of that department and its citizens, who would trust again in a voting system respecting democracy.