Last April 6th, when Costa Ricans voted—on second round—to elect their new president, they not only preserved their democratic system by attending the polling stations, but also supported the transformation process of their electoral system by massively testing the e-voting model that the nation expects to implement in 2016.
The event, organized by the High Electoral Court (TSE), allowed voters from various regions of the country to interact, after they had voted manually for their president, with the machines that would modernize their electoral system.
The e-voting system tested by Costa Rica shows similarities to that employed in other countries in the region, such as the US and Venezuela, as it’s based on the use of touchscreen machines where each voter can type his or her preferred options and then the device prints a vote receipt in order for the voter to verify that his or her selection was properly registered. This also ensures that there is a physical backup for each selection.
The software design began to be developed in 2011. However, the purchase of the equipments was only made effective between August and September 2013. It was only this year that testing and preparation of the system for the 2016 municipal elections began. This modernization program is being carried by the Engineering Department of the TSE’s Technological Strategy Directorate, and so far it has 50 electronic devices.
The experience was commended and supported by the Organization of American States (OAS). Josefina Vázquez Mota (from Mexico), Chief of the delegation, highlighted that the organization “saluted this effort with much satisfaction, as the conditions for its use were very favorable. Besides, the mechanism was observed to be very efficient and fast.”
The experience sets Costa Rica on the path to automate voting, and joining the elite of nations with a modern, safe, and transparent suffrage. TSE’s plans include continuing the tests and taking advantage of student elections at professional schools and universities to keep showing and improving the electronic voting system the whole country is betting on for the municipal elections that will take place in two years.