Colombia defines coordinates for e-voting pilot


Colombia will carry out an electoral automation pilot to show the country the advantages of electronic voting. Photo: Registrar’s Office

More constituencies, two models of electronic voting, and the scheduling of a date before March 2014 summarize the new coordinates of the pilot test that Colombia will be carrying out to show the country the advantages of electoral automation.

The suspension of the Colombian political parties’ internal referendum, originally scheduled for September 29th and expected to be the event where e-voting would be deployed, forced the country to rethink the experience. However, the Registrar’s Office did not falter, and together with the advisory commission it completed the technical report that will be taken to the Executive branch so that resources will be allocated for Colombia to advance toward a modern and safe electoral system.

Far from turning into an obstacle, this delay brought improvements to the electoral journey. The authorities decided to raise the number of constituencies to be automated from 33 to 93 schools. This way, a larger group of districts and a larger electoral roll will experiment with the two e-voting models that will be tested.

Colombia seeks to subject the performance of two types of e-voting to public scrutiny. The first type is based on PCOS technology (precinct count optical scan), which is basically the use of a ballot box equipped with a reader or scanner to identify each ballot and process votes in order to tally them automatically. The equipment must also be able to print a vote receipt on paper.

The second option is the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) system, which is based on the use of touchscreen devices that enable suffrage, vote storage, and their tally and transmission to a computing center. This kind of equipment also has the capacity to emit paper receipts of the ballot cast by each voter.

The Registrar’s Office will be responsible for deciding which of these two technologies will be used in Colombia over the next months. Besides, it will make sure that the machines are subjected to extreme situations such as power outages and connectivity problems in order to sustain the selection of the technology that will automate the electoral system in the future.

Moreover, there was an agreement that the test will be carried out before the March 2014 legislative elections, as the institution’s intention is to comply with Law 1475 of 2011, which stipulates the fulfillment of an e-voting pilot before these elections.

Colombia has had to overcome many barriers to reach the definitive step towards the implementation of e-voting. A lack of resources, political resistance, and lack of trust may have hindered automation for years, but for this nation, never stopping has been the key to success.

Mexican party will use electronic voting

Although Mexico has not yet adopted an automated voting system, the Acción Nacional Party (PAN) decided to request the support of the Electoral Institute to elect its next youth leader through electronic voting. The experience will be based on a “hybrid mechanism with e-voting capacity consisting of a touchscreen that allows for a paper receipt to be printed in order to verify results.” Read the news here.

Ecuador arms itself with two e-voting models


CNE approved the implementation of e-voting in the Azuay and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas provinces. Photo: CNE

Far from being daunted by the typical complications of undertaking migration from manual to electronic voting, Ecuador has turned resistance into the engine that powers change. This week it was able to guarantee the use of two different technologies for the pilot test that will automate the February 2014 elections in the Azuay and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas provinces. By ratifying the old saying, “where there is a will, there is a way,” Ecuador not only applied e-voting in the country, but it also flaunted its capacity to negotiate, and it reached an agreement with Argentina and Venezuela to use their models of automated suffrage.

The strategy of the National Electoral Council is to show the country the advantages of automation, and at the same time, to test two technologies that allow for the generation of a solution that can adapt to the legal, logistic, and electoral necessities of the country.

Counselor Nubia Villacís stated that suffrage through electronic means brings the “possibility of having multilingual interfaces (Spanish, Quechua) on a single device, incorporating devices to enable suffrage for illiterate people and for people with visual disabilities, and it also provides safe and reliable systems that reduce manual processing to the minimum, as well as precision and speed in obtaining results.”

By signing a cooperation agreement with Venezuela, this country will facilitate the mechanisms to implement e-voting in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. This region, with 219,526 voters, will debut in the use of voting machines with touchscreen and vote receipt printing capacity, which will permit a comparison between the results from automated tallying and manual scrutiny at the end of the event. Venezuelan technology is provided by the multinational Smartmatic.

The agreement with Argentina, which will favor automation in the region of Azuay, seeks that the 600,000 registered voters in this area use e-voting ballot boxes with smart ballots, which store votes in a chip, allow blank votes and void votes, and emit a printed vote receipt.

Having chosen the election models that will constitute the basis for automation, Ecuador has even already stipulated that during the next six months it will combine training with the diffusion of the e-voting systems in order to ensure the success of the test. This country did not falter, and in a few months it will join the vanguard group of electoral technology usage.