Next December 8th, Venezuela will carry out a cycle of 13 automated elections in nine years. During the session, more than 19 million voters are expected to elect 2,792 posts between mayors and council members, and although these elections are multiple, Venezuela’s e-voting was designed to work seamlessly, no matter how complex the electoral challenge is.
Since 2004, the country has been using technology provided by Smartmatic, which allows them to have a 100% automated suffrage: voter authentication through fingerprint, exercise of suffrage through touchscreen machines with electronic ballot. The machines are capable of storing, tallying, summing up, and transmitting the encrypted results, plus printing a vote receipt on paper, where each voter’s intent is registered.
The voting system is subjected to more than 15 audits in order to guarantee its reliability. Before each election, technicians representing all the stakeholders audit the electoral registry, the voters’ list, the lists of those eligible to be members of the polling stations and electoral boards, as well as the software used to select them, the machines, the biometric identification devices, the fingerprint database, the aggregation software, the indelible ink, among others. After the election, a closure audit is carried out. This consists in proving that the vote receipts deposited in 54% of the ballot boxes match the scrutiny minutes.
Besides all the reviews that ensure vote secrecy, the system offers additional guarantees that have been agreed upon by the political parties and the National Electoral Council.
Electoral technology in Venezuela’s case is used in a limitless way to adapt it to all the security and safeguarding conditions required by the parties, the civil society, and the laws. To this day, the country is an example that is being studied by nations such as Colombia, Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador in order to face seamlessly the migration of their manual voting systems to automated ones.
The reasons to analyze Venezuela’s e-voting are technical and civil. In the first case, electronic suffrage has no contender as the most effective, reliable, fast, and transparent tool to carry out elections. In the second, the political process that keeps the country polarized finds a point of confluence in the use of automation and is also proof beyond doubt that automated voting safeguards and guarantees the people’s intent above any ideological differences the citizens and parties may have.