Experts from Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Norway, Austria, Mexico and Argentina reviewed the best practices in electoral automation during the “Compared Experiences in Electronic Voting Implementation” seminar, sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS) and Peru’s National Office for Electoral Processes (ONPE) on October 22 and 23.
The confluence of nations and visions on the use of electoral technology yielded a document that outlines the keys to follow to adopt e-voting and do justice to the democratic values that are supported in the exercise of suffrage: universality, freedom, equality, directness, and secrecy.
In order to preserve the value of votes through electoral technology, experts established that trust is a sine qua non, that is to say that both political parties and voters, media, and society at large must believe in automation as a tool that will allow them to have safe, transparent, and reliable elections. To this end, the implementation process must be open throughout all its stages (system search and selection, tests, tender), and application must be progressive and with a broad information and training campaign.
Along with these characteristics, they established that there are 16 basic conditions for the implementation of e-voting: authentication, vote uniqueness, anonymity, impossibility of duress, precision, verification (traceability), auditability, reliability, flexibility, accessibility, feasibility of use, cost efficiency, ability to be certified, invulnerability, openness, and cost effectiveness.
The comprehensiveness of requirements leaves no doubt as to the importance of voting in the democratic world. Besides, technology can provide each and every one of the necessary electoral guarantees for clean, safe, and fast processes.
Nations with the goal of automation cannot afford to obviate any of the stages that have been well preserved by the 30 countries that now have laws to automate elections, and in which —according to a report by the Carter Center carried out in 2012— more than 1.7 billion people can vote safely.
Some of the considerations that experts mention include carrying out a broad referendum across the nation, carrying out comparative studies, calling for a transparent tender, applying pilot programs to test the reliability of the system and its adaptation to the country’s characteristics, deploying a broad information process, and designing a progressive implementation plan that allows the whole nation to adjust to electronic voting.
Facts show that in order to modernize suffrage, a country does not need to move fast, but rather for its responsible authorities to choose the most adequate system, because the electoral technology available nowadays offers all the necessary tools to safeguard the main asset of Democracy, the vote.