2014 is the deadline Colombia has imposed to automate their elections. The decision on which technology to use to modernize the voting won’t be based only on political and citizen debates; the National Registry, following a request by the consulting committee, has chosen to strengthen the selection process by carrying out a pilot test that will contrast the operation of 3 e-voting models.
The path chosen by Colombia can free the country from long and heated discussions; since it will be the performance of the technologies selected that will give clues as to which system the nation should adopt, based on its needs and characteristics.
According to the electoral authorities, this “trial by fire” will take place in September, time for the political parties and associations internal elections. This test will analyze 3 models of automated voting: an e-ballot scanner; touch screen voting machines that print voting receipts; and touch screen devices without printing a voucher. Behind these systems we find the following companies: Indra, from Spain; Colvista, from Argentina; Smartmatic, from Venezuela; and Dominion Voting Systems, from Canada.
During these internal elections, besides the operation of the equipment and the efficiency of the system, several key points of any electoral process will be evaluated as well, such as logistics (determining the necessary infrastructure); voter education and technical support staff training; the possibility of adding the biometric identification of voters (fingerprint capture); results tallying and consolidation; and security and auditability concerns.
The challenge being undertaken by Colombia is almost epic in scope. For years, the Registry has pushed for the enforcing of a 2004 law that makes e-voting mandatory, without success. This pilot test not only represents a way to choose the voting technology that is ideal for the country, but can also become an element that unites the nation into leaving behind fraudulent elections, delayed official results and the mistrust of its institutions.