In accordance to the Venezuelan Constitution’s mandate for cases of absolute absence of a Head of State, the electoral power has scheduled a new presidential election for April 14th, following President Hugo Chávez’s death last March 5th. Even though this election will have a historic significance, the importance of this poll is not just political, but also technical. Organizing a national election in only 34 days (the poll was convened on March 9th and the calendar started on the 10th) entails one of the biggest challenges for the e-voting system – provided by Smartmatic– and used by the country since 2004.
Anywhere in the world, organizing a national election is a complex task that usually takes up to seven months of preparation, but according to technicians consulted by Digital Vote, Venezuela is not only ready to carry out the election, but it will also be able to offer all the necessary guarantees to reach legitimate results audited by all the actors of the process before, during, and after the election.
Smartmatic’s technology, which is well known for allowing the revision of its entire system, will be fully exploited when 15 audits are carried out throughout the process. Due to the short notice, the electoral body programmed simultaneous revisions, always with the participation of technicians from the political parties. It is worth mentioning that in order to guarantee the results, the software is equipped with a digital signature or code shared by the parties, the electoral body, and the provider.
One aspect favoring the organization of the April 14th elections is the fact that the technology has already been tested in multiple processes (13) and is ready to be set up with no delay in both the voting devices and the tallying center. Moreover, the National Electoral Council made some decisions that helped shorten the preparation times, such as using the same electoral register from the October 2012 presidential election. This allows the data files to be maintained for the voting machines’ production process.
This election will be a new opportunity to show the world that the Venezuela’s decision to join the wave of electoral automation was right. The feat of organizing an election in 34 days would be almost impossible with manual voting, due to the security protocols that must be respected, among other reasons. The 19 million ballots needed would require security elements such as watermarks, barcodes (unique to each ballot) and paper with special characteristics. Supposing that printing one ballot card takes one second, preparing the ballot cards would take up to 30 days, provided that the organism can use eight printers that can process each card with no errors.
Venezuela will be ready for April 14th, and let’s just say it, it will be thanks to e-voting. Having a platform that only needs to be configured, and which allows its total revision, guarantees that the 14th election 100% automated and consecutive, will take place in the record time of 34 days and under the principles of democracy and technical transparency.