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.