Ecuador plays safe with e-voting


Ecuador prepares an electoral event with e-voting for 2014.

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Under the premise of implementing the most convenient electoral technology for the country and for democracy, Ecuador holds a debate on what e-voting model it will use on February 2014, when the province of Azuay will become the pioneer in automation in the South American country.

In order to avoid any faux pas in the migration from manual to electronic voting, the National Electoral Council has gathered the world’s best practices in automation, and it announced that it will apply a battery of pre-electoral, electoral, and post-electoral audits as to preserve the reliability on which the voting system is founded.

Since the electronic voting model that will be used is currently under debate, the electoral body did not describe the steps it will follow to audit most of the process. However, it did offer good news for voters: on election day, a so-called ‘hot audit’ will be carried out. This means that at the close of the election there will be a verification that the electronically cast and tallied ballots match the vote receipts emitted by the voting machines.

CNE’s vice president Paúl Salazar made this announcement and highlighted that the system to be used will be an automated one that prints a vote receipt tp allow comparing the paper registry with the automated tally at the close of the election, and that only then will the official results of the race will be announced.

The audit that Ecuador will hold replicates a practice mastered by Venezuela. This country, which has been using electoral technology provided by Smartmatic since 2004, designed a series of more than twelve audits to guarantee the transparency of all the phases of e-voting. Among the most important ones—because voters are witnesses and protagonists—is the revision done at the end of the election. To be more specific, 54% of the tables are audited in a process that verifies that the voter’s intent reflected in the vote receipt matches the scrutiny minute printed by the machine.

Thus, Venezuela becomes an example to follow in electoral automation. The CNE vice-president stated that comparing vote receipts and the automated tally generates “trust, legitimacy, and credibility” for electoral technology, and he is not wrong.

Every electoral system’s reliability is supported on being capable of registering each vote faithfully, preserving its secrecy—both of the election made and of the voter—, showing a scrutiny that observes the electorate’s selections, guaranteeing that the results cannot be altered, and being user friendly for all people. The compliance of these requirements is what makes an electoral process efficient and reliable, and that is the bet that Ecuador is making.

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