The speed of e-voting admits no discussion

E-voting in Posadas took no longer than 1 minute 40 seconds. Photo: Misiones on line

When it comes to organizing an electoral event, e-voting is renowned for its advantages, which are as varied as transcendental: security, tallying, secrecy of the vote, ease of use, and speed. This last characteristic is the one that interests voters the most, mainly because manual voting makes citizens go through slow and tiresome processes, and also because it decreases the time to proclaim official results.

The region of Posadas in Argentina, which carried out its first e-voting test at the beginning of the month, can serve as an example that reflects the importance given by voters to automation as a way to ease the voting exercise. The speed of voting sessions reached times between 1 minute 12 seconds and 1 minute 40 seconds, thus equaling the speed records from pioneer countries like Brazil and Venezuela. While a voting session with number keyboard machines in Brazil lasts barely over one minute, voting in Venezuela with touchscreen machines and electronic ballots takes no more than 60 seconds for a single-post election, and about 75 seconds for multiple elections.

Technology can also speed up suffrage, since the voters’ identity can be certified through biometric identification (fingerprint scanning). Besides, a fast voting session is another benefit brought by automation, since the use of machines allows reducing suffrage to the mere action of pressing the desired option on a machine or an electronic ballot. From the minutes that it takes to evaluate the traditional ballot and mark the options manually, there is a jump to the minimum lapse that there is in the selection of one candidate many, if there is more than one post in dispute.

Another stage of the process that makes use of the value of speed is the use of software for counting, tallying, and proclamation of the results. With e-voting, after closing a polling station, the machine counts the cast ballots in seconds and is capable of transmitting them in few minutes to a tallying center, no matter how big is the voting registry, how many voters there are, or what are the topographic characteristics of the country. This allows the proclamation of official results in a short time span —ranging from half an hour to approximately two hours after closing the polling stations—.

Electoral technology is at its apex, but using it efficiently depends on the countries that wish to leave behind the antiquated systems that give delayed —and even tainted— results, damaging the value of suffrage as a vital element for Democracy.


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