One of the main concerns in countries that are pondering the automation of their voting systems is the difficulty the electorate would face to understand, learn and adapt to the use of voting technology. This doubt is used as an argument by those who oppose the worldwide adoption of e-voting.
However, regardless of what is said by those opposing and criticizing the use of machines in elections, the truth remains that the best practices of voting automation have smashed the arguments against its use, and public opinion validates that technology makes voting simpler.
A clear example of what e-voting can mean to a country is shown in a study carried out by the Centre for Political Studies of the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Venezuela. This research (presented in mid-October) dealt with the “attitudes of Venezuelan voters regarding elections and the electoral government body”; the field date of the study is July 2013, and it comprises a sample of 1,200 nationwide interviews (quota sampling, semi-probabilistic) with an error margin of +/- 2.3.
The survey showed that a solid 82% of Venezuelan voters considers that e-voting “makes voting easier”. The fact that 8 out of 10 people believe that technology facilitates voting makes clear that its use is not exclusive, but rather it includes every age and socioeconomic group and meets their demands.
Venezuela has used the machines and software designed by Smartmatic for the past nine years, a technology based on touch screen machines coupled with a device for the biometric authentication of voters. These machines are also capable of operating together with an e-ballot (for multiple voting scenarios), storing, counting, tallying and transmitting encrypted results, and printing paper voting vouchers.
This study of the UCAB also shows that 45% of the population believe it’s not possible to know who you vote for when e-voting is employed, and 54% of the sample stated that using technology (voting machines and fingerprint capture devices) makes electoral fraud impossible.
The findings of this survey reinforce what renowned Venezuelan pollster Datanálisis had measured in September of last year, when 55.6% of the interviewees indicated that e-voting was very easy, while 35.5% considered it easy.
Public opinion in Venezuela is sure of what voting automation has given the country. Their support of e-voting must be a tool that motivates governments and politicians to keep the electoral process fail-proof and to continue strengthening electoral guarantees.