Throughout the last couple of decades, technology has made available different solutions to improve election administration at all levels of the electoral cycle. From the first electronic voting machines developed in the 1990’s, to sophisticated software to monitor electoral processes, each day, nations around the world have better and more powerful tools at their disposal to enfranchise voters.
One such an example is the tools being developed to improve communication channels with voters. In Venezuela, two grassroots organizations activated links to allow voters practice how to vote on the 2012 presidential elections. Brazil and the United States, the other two countries leading election automation in the hemisphere, are also betting on interactive elements to invite people to the ballot boxes and transform their voting into a seamless one. Through the use of links on the internet, voters learn about their voting system, and practice casting a virtual vote.
In Brazil, about 5,200 local governments will be elected next October 7th. The Superior Electoral Court (manufacturer of the electronic ballots used in the country) lets people walk through the legal, logistic, and functional aspects of voting, as well as those related to online services, on their Web portal. It also has a special link devoted to electronic voting, which not only makes a broad explanation on the implications of automation (software and hardware), but also presents a voting machine simulator for each visitor to experiment with Brazilian electronic suffrage. This virtual resource is able to successfully simulate the ballot box with its number keyboard in order to be sure at the moment of attending the electoral appointment. Venezuela, on the other hand, entered the world of virtual voting hand in hand with two citizen organizations that promote electoral participation: Voto Joven (Young Vote) and Venezuela Inteligente (Smart Venezuela). For the October 7 presidential elections, these two organizations set up a website that trains voters on the dynamics used to vote: biometric authentication, electronic voting, placement of the vote receipt inside the box, signature and fingerprint on the voting registry, and marking of the pinky finger with indelible ink. The representation of electronic voting, which in this country comprises voting machine, electronic ballot, and fingerprint scanner, is particularly vivid, and it trains electors to vote with no error margin.
Finally, the US will renovate its presidency and vice-presidency next November 6th, as well as 33 Senators, the whole House of Representatives, 11 governors, and various state legislators. In this nation, most of the counties in each of the states have the power to manage independently all the aspects related to elections (from purchase of material to definition of procedures). For this reason, right now there are more than three thousand opportunities of implementation of e-voting, and until now all variations have been used: from manual voting and automated tallying (mechanical, perforated cards, and optic scanner) to completely automated elections. In many states, there are websites that let users practice the use of e-voting. One of them is Florida, which combines different systems and has made available to its citizens an interactive channel in order not to make mistakes at the election.
These three countries are advancing in electoral automation, and in the near future they will be giving more surprises regarding their decision to offer more reliable and user-friendly systems when it comes to choosing their governors and interacting with electoral technology.