Peru’s ONPE designed a voting machine, which has been tested in three occasions.
Peru is one of the Latin American countries that have strived the most to take their electoral system to the next level. Based on its experience with manual voting, the nation’s electoral needs, and the technological references other regions have in this matter, the country decided to leverage e-voting several years ago.
The effort was indeed fruitful, as the Office for Electoral Processes (ONPE) worked on the design of a voting machine that was used for the first time in 2011—second round of the presidential election—in the Pacarán district of the Lima region’s Cañete province, with very effective results. This experience set the framework to repeat the process in the same locale for last September’s recall referendum.
Cañete was chosen again to show the country the benefits of automated voting during the municipal election and the recall referendum held last July 8th. These were two tests that brought very significant results in terms of equipment performance, voter training, electoral guarantees, and an accurate tally.
Mariano Cucho, head of ONPE, stated that the participation of the township of Cañete showed that the use of new technologies can optimize elections, not only in terms of speed—voting took only 30 seconds—but also in terms of facilitating the exercise of this political right and guaranteeing the security and transparency of results.
Electronic voting in Peru is based on the use of a card, which once inserted in a machine, activates the device’s options (candidates to vote for). Voters press their preferred option, the system processes and stores each vote, and finally the session is closed with the emission of a paper receipt, which works as proof of vote. This receipt is deposited in a box as a physical proof of the electronic registry. Results are transmitted, via satellite, to a computer center.
The electronic dynamics of the South American country use the advances achieved in other countries by the most important electoral technology companies. Touchscreens are used in the Unit
ed States, Europe, and even South America, as is the case in Venezuela. The idea of the emission of a vote receipt was taken from this country, where the mechanism became popular and spread out to other regions.
After this successful event, ONPE announced that the 2016 elections will be automated. The challenges it faces now are procuring the necessary resources to start the production of equipment, training the personnel involved, and carrying out an information campaign for the electorate. E-voting fulfilled Peru’s expectations, and now the authorities must fulfill the nation’s expectations too.