Putting the electoral system to the test is a possibility that not many countries give themselves. However, the need to verify that the logistic and technical performance is up to 100% can be vital in two ways: as an additional guarantee for everything to work properly on Election Day, and it also allows for voters to become familiar with the process they must follow to exert their right to suffrage smoothly.
These two incentives should be enough for any nation not to elude the responsibility to carry out what is known as electoral drills. These are experiments where the electoral scaffolding is put to the test.
In order to prove the importance of electoral drills, we will show how Venezuela, a country that has completely automated elections with technology provided by Smartmatic, includes partial and complete tests in its electoral timeline, which have sealed the success of electronic voting and have strengthened the voters’ trust in their popular election system.
For the presidential elections scheduled for this October, the National Electoral Council has planned two drills: a partial one that will take place this Sunday and contemplates 55 polling stations throughout the country, and the “big test” scheduled for next August 26th, in which voting machines will be deployed in two thousand constituencies and 18.9 million registered voters will be able to participate,.
These two exercises contemplate the rollout of all the stages that must take place in order to execute a formal election. The Venezuelan Electoral Council defines it this way: the drills are technical tests that take place nationwide, where the technologic and logistic elements are tested the way they will be used on Election Day. These include monitoring rollout, contingency and withdrawal of electoral material, the voting procedure, and carrying out the processes of scrutiny and transmission of results to test the performance of the two national tallying centers.
Besides, it becomes possible during this day for voters to experiment with voting machines and electronic ballots, as well as interact with the Integral Authentication System (SAI): a device attached to the voting machine, which verifies through biometric authentication – i.e., a fingerprint scan – the identity of the voter in order to cast his or her ballot.
With the drills, Venezuela does not evade the responsibility of proving that its automated voting system is qualified to work on Election Day. This way, it guarantees its optimum performance and brings its citizens close to the exercise of the element that reassures their political identity: voting. It is in the hands of the world to take up this challenge as well.