Colombian manual vote in the eye of the hurricane

votocolColombia is not only facing a political duel on June 15th for the presidential second round, but it is also returning to the ballot boxes under pressure from the shadow of fraud and irregularities generated by its manual voting system in 2014, and invariably in each process executed during the last few years.

Due to the fact that the political class’s resistance has impeded the country from adopting technology that would allow it to shield suffrage— for 10 years it has not enforced the law requiring it to automate voting—, the Registrar’s Office has taken measures to prevent the same old cheats and misdemeanors from ruining an electoral trust already affected by elections with delayed and doubtful results.

The electoral body has provided for the delivery of the pre-count and scrutiny software source codes to the Prosecutor General, somehow replicating some e-voting practices. The codes contain the information for the software to achieve its goal, and the objective of this action is to be able to verify the code’s functionality, as well as verifying that the delivered code is the correct one that will be used on Sunday.

Aside from the custody of the codes, Colombia will once again use a biometric identification system to validate voter identity and minimize the occurrence of identity theft. In this occasion, the government has decided to locate the 3750 biometric stations that will be used in areas with the highest incidence of identity fraud.

Logistics will be reinforced at pre-count, one of the critical stages of Colombia’s manual voting. With pre-count, the Registrar’s Office does not have to present official results once the day closes, as it delivers an informational quick scrutiny. According to the entity, 33 data processing centers were equipped to carry out data consolidation in order to publish data more quickly.

The special measures for pre-count are a response to the fact that in several elections, this process has harmed electoral trust, as the transmitted information did not match the one given by the official scrutiny. Even the National Registrar, Carlos Ariel Sánchez, admitted that this procedure is not reliable, as it can throw errors of considerable magnitude.

With the action taken by the South American country, it has become evident that the nation requires changes to guarantee its elections. It is time for Colombia to turn over the page of unofficial electoral results, identity theft, errors in manual counting, and a slow formalization of winners, and finally shield its democratic stability with automated elections.


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