Dominican Republic takes decisive step to automate elections

rd digital

A Dominican University will provide the venue for e-voting’s litmus test in the Caribbean country.

In February 2014, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), in Dominican Republic, will become the first institution in this country to implement e-voting. The Central Electoral Board (JCE) presented a few days ago the technology that will take the Central American nation on the path of electoral automation.

Current plans stipulate that e-voting will be implemented by 2016, which is why the UASD elections will be useful not only to renovate the school’s authorities, but also to become a trial experience for the automated model that the country intends to use.

The process of migration from manual voting to electronic voting is not simple, and Dominican Republic recurred to the Latin American nation with the most experience in the matter, besides Brazil: Venezuela. Parting from the Venezuelan model, they designed a piece of software that adjusts to the University of Santo Domingo’s technical and logistic needs.

The JCE chairman, Roberto Rosario Márquez, explained that the program that will run on the touchscreen devices —purchased in Taiwan— was designed by the technicians of the Dominican electoral entity, with the help and advisory from Venezuela’s National Electoral Council.

The history of e-voting in Venezuela goes back to 1998, when it adopted technology to count votes, but in 2004 it took an decisive step to automate suffrage in its entirety. Nowadays it has a system —provided by the transnational company Smartmatic— which allows authenticating the voter using biometrics to initiate the voting session, and also to automate the voting, counting, transmission, consolidation, and awarding processes with the aid of equipment and software. This technology is auditable in all stages of the electoral process.

According to the demonstration performed in the University of Santo Domingo, the institution will have voting machines with touchscreen, where the options will be displayed for voters to click on their preferred option and confirm their selection before casting their ballot. Since the registry comprises only 4,000 voters, the results are expected to be presented 30 minutes after closing the polling stations.

Besides relying on the Venezuelan automated voting model, the Caribbean nation has also announced that it will replicate its security protocol, which comprises more than 15 audits involving pre-electoral processes, during the elections, and post-election.

Dominican Republic is giving signs that it is on the right track. The school elections will allow it to make the decision to continue the effort to allow the country to have a modern and safe electoral system for its citizens, one where the people’s intent will indefectibly decide the fate of the nation.


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