Peru has come closer to the goal of automating suffrage completely with the decision made by the National Office for Electoral Processes (ONPE) of using e-voting partially during the next July and November elections. As usual in almost all aspects of politics, modernizing the electoral system is a steeplechase, but in this country’s case, the finish line is already in sight.
ONPE designed an e-voting device, but a lack of resources to mass produce this machine, train the necessary personnel, and deploy an informational campaign for the electorate has maintained the leap from manual to electronic voting in suspense. However, this year the country will hold two tests that could prove crucial for automation to find a place in the national budget.
Mariano Cucho Espinoza, director of the electoral body, revealed that the system will be tested first during next month’s recall referendum in the Cañete community. However, it will be in November when Peruvian e-voting will come under the spotlight, as two metropolitan districts of Lima will deploy e-voting equipment for at least a million citizens to vote for revoked councilors.
ONPE’s maximum authority believes that the event can help “shift paradigms” in the way to exert suffrage in the country, and he highlights that it will be the “litmus test to demonstrate the reliability of this mechanism more widely.” The companies invited to participate in next month’s test are Voting Solution, from Colombia; Votar, from Argentina, Indra, and Smartmatic. All of them will exhibit the advantages of their technology for the country to measure their effectiveness and the pertinence of their implementation.
The changes that Peru will experience with automation include money savings—polling stations would be reduced from 38,000 to 13,000, and only 40,000 polling station officers would be needed instead of the current 120,000—, the simplification of scrutiny (from vote-to-vote manual counting to an automated tally), and the fast delivery of results.
Peru can respond to the challenge of automating suffrage. However, in order to do so, it will need technical and logistic support, and above all, support from the authorities. It is in their hands that the nation stops chasing after the goal to focus on the implementation of the system that will take it to electoral modernity.