E-voting has a successful debut in Ecuador

Smartmatic Ecuador Elections 2014

Ecuadorians in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas used e-voting during the February 23 elections (Image CNE Ecuador)

On Sunday, February 23rd, Ecuador took a great step towards the modernization of its electoral system. The South American nation went to the polls to renew its provincial authorities (23 prefects, 221 mayors, 1,305 councilmen and 4,079 members of the parish boards).

The provinces of Azuay and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas had the opportunity to experience the benefits of e-voting in two legally binding pilots coordinated by the National Electoral Council.

The experience in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas has a particular historical significance, since results were announced barely an hour after the polls had closed.

Over 300 thousand voters in Santo Domingo used electoral technology provided by the multinational company Smartmatic, the only one which recorded and tallied votes automatically and with a 100% precision.

For Daniel Sánchez Anchundia, aged 28 and affected by cerebral palsy, the implementation of e-voting in Santo Domingo was a blessing. Thanks to the machine’s user-friendly interface, Daniel could vote by pressing the screen with his right hand, and after a minute, the machine printed a voucher that he picked up and gave his mother so she could deposit it in a ballot box.

According to statements by the National Electoral Council project manager, Alfredo Paredes, “the e-voting we used in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, in addition to being safe, allowed citizens to cast their votes easily. This technology we used has been tested in elections in many other countries, which meant a successful project for us.”

Meanwhile, the system used in Azuay had some setbacks, to the point that in Ponce Enríquez canton e-voting was temporarily halted due to failures in the system and problems with the pictures of candidates belonging to the same list. There were also machine replacements, complaints about delays and an unfamiliarity of the public with the operation of the machines.

On the other hand, Wilfredo Penco, general coordinator for the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) commission of observers, showed his satisfaction with the process and stated that, with the exception of certain incidents, everything took place without significant issues.


A step by step description of the three e-voting systems tested in Ecuador

The machines in Santo Domingo are provided by Smartmatic. Image: CNE Ecuador

Ecuador will go to the polls on February 23rd to select the country’s provincial authorities (23 prefects, 221 mayors, 1,305 council members and 4,079 members of the parish boards). Adding to the traditional importance elections have as means for strengthening democracy, this time around the country’s attention will be focused on the operation of the e-voting technologies that will be tested in Azuay, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas and Quito’s sector of La Morita.

Knowing how the voting machines operate, the guarantees they offer, and the steps needed to vote is a priority in these days leading up to the election. The National Electoral Council has carried out an intense education campaign for both the voters and electoral technicians, and currently there are active e-voting simulators in Azuay and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, regions where this e-voting pilot will be legally binding.

Step by step description of e-voting in Santo Domingo de Tsáchilas

Once the voters identify themselves to the members of the Polling Board, the Smartmatic supplied voting machine will be activated so the voting can take place. A touch screen will display the options, the voters will make their selections, and after verifying them, they will press the “vote” button on the screen; their choices will not only be stored in the machine, but also a printed voting voucher will be produced, which the voters will need to physically deposit in a ballot box.

This system lets the voter be a unique witness to the automatic storage of his/her choices in the machine, as soon as they are made, while also providing a paper trail for verification. Both the physical and digital counts match exactly; this can be proven by checking the automated vote tally against the paper vouchers in the boxes.

The machines to be employed in Santo Domingo de Tsáchilas fully embody the qualities of e-voting: not only do they allow citizens to cast their votes, but they also store, count, tally and transmit electoral results.

Step by step description of e-voting in Amuay

The machines to be used in this location were designed by Magic Software Argentina (MSA). The voting dynamic is as follows: once the voters identify themselves, they will be provided with a ballot containing a chip; this ballot must be inserted into the touch screen voting machine. After the voters make their selections, these are stored in the chip. Then it is time for the voters to insert the ballot in the machine’s reader to verify that the choices stored are in fact the ones intended. In the end, the machine will print a voting voucher that needs to be deposited in a traditional ballot box.


The machines that will be tested in Amuay have the limitation of not recording the votes per se. This prevents electors from having the guarantee that their votes will not be tampered with during the count, given that their choices are stored only in the ballot chips. It won’t be until the closing of the polls that these ballots will be counted by poll station workers. It is up to the discretion of those in charge of the election whether to count or not all the votes cast by the people.

Step by step description of e-voting in La Morita

The Russian technology to be experimentally tested in this section of the capital consists of machines activated through security cards with barcodes. A touch screen shows voters their options, and after selections are made (which allow for null or blank votes), the vote is registered and ready to be transmitted.

These machines are not capable of generating a paper trail that could be used in later election audits.


Río Negro legislature tests out e-voting

The legislature of the Argentinian district of Río Negro is working on voting automation. According to the authorities, they are testing the software that will gradually allow legislators to vote for laws and other matters through electronic means during the current legislative period. Find more information here.