Colombia breaks its silence and resumes the e-voting debate

voteAfter eight months of silence, Colombia reactivated the debate about the organization of an e-voting pilot test, an experience that could entail the true transformation of the country’s old and ill-reputed electoral system.

The E-Voting Implementation Advisory Commission had not met since November 2013, but it resumed work a few days ago to decide where, when and which companies will participate in the event that will foster the use of electoral technology in the country. According to leaked information, the Commission agreed to set a timeline to call e-voting providers for a tender, and also to establish the requirements that these companies must comply with in order to bid.

All decisions made from now on will seek to outline the path toward the selection of an e-voting model that represents the advantages of automation and that adapts to Colombia’s legal requirements and the specific characteristics of the Colombian suffrage.

Accordingly, last year the Registrar’s Office made a summons which was answered by 16 companies, local and foreign, offering the two kinds of technology that Colombia intends to test out: PCOS (precinct-count optical scan), based on the use of a ballot box with an optical scanner for identifying ballots and processing votes in order to count them automatically), and direct recording electronic (DRE) technology, which consists of the use of touchscreen machines that enable casting, storing, aggregating, and transmitting votes to a computing center . These devices must also have the capacity to print physical vote receipts.

These are the companies that will compete to provide electoral technology in Colombia: Gerencia Ieconsultores, Smartmatic, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Popayán, Dominion Voting, Technology Supplier, Arolén, Sio, Avante International Technology e ID Systems, Scytl, Thomas Greg & Sons Limited (Guernsey), 3M, Colvista, Gestión Informática, Grupo ASD, DPS Data Processing & Systems, Voting Solutions Colombia, and Certicámara.

Colombia has seen its quest to modernize suffrage halted several times. Let’s hope that this new impetus drives the country safely through the path to comply with the Law that enforces vote automation, and also to leave behind a system that has jeopardized the will of the people. Democracy needs it, and the country demands it.

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