Simulating an election before the real one takes place is a tool that not many countries use, but which can be crucial for the success of the actual voting scenario. This experiment not only allows the people in charge to evaluate the technical and logistical performance of the process: it is also a priceless way for voters to familiarize themselves with the dynamics that will be in place when they exercise their right.
Ecuador has understood and accepted this reality. The country will hold elections on February 23rd, which will be historical, since three different e-voting technologies will be tried out simultaneously; this has the final goal of automating the country’s voting system. However, in order to leave nothing to chance during the upcoming elections, the country will first execute four voting simulations.
Next month, the Ecuadorian local elections will be predominantly manual. However, the provinces of Azuay and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, as well La Morita (a section of Quito), will be pioneers in the use of voting machines in the country. During these elections, 23 provincial prefects, 221 mayors, 1,305 councilmen and 4,079 parish board members will be chosen.
These four different simulations are to include all the steps that need to be fulfilled during a regular, formal election. The Ecuadorian National Electoral Council (CNE) organized two nationwide technical trials (on January 26th and February 9th) where the system’s technical and logistical components will be put to the test, just as they will be on Election Day. The simulations include a monitoring of the deployment, contingency and roll-back procedures of the electoral material, the voting proper and the transmission of results.
Added to these two macro-level tests, a voting simulation will take place on February 1st in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, using technology provided by the London-based Smartmatic. In Azuay, a province that uses the same e-voting system as the Argentine province of Salta, the voting equipment will be tested the following day.
CNE national advisor, Juan Pablo Pozo set the record straight: the voting simulations will allow authorities to evaluate the installation of the equipment, the voting, tallying and transmission of results. They will also test the efficiency of the system and perform the necessary corrections before the elections.
By organizing these simulations, Ecuador is meeting its obligation to check the readiness of its automated voting system before elections take place. The nation’s commitment guarantees not only the operability of the system, but it also gives citizens a chance to learn to use the instrument they will use to reaffirm their political identity: the vote.