Colombia: Slow but steady progress toward automation

eleccionescolombiaColombia’s negative experience with manual voting has been going on for years, mainly because the first results as a rule have been non-official, and the “successful” system used to elect one post—such as the country’s President—has proven totally deficient when elections acquire some degree of complexity—governors, mayors, deputies.

Based on the need to advance and leave electoral scandals behind, the country has created the Advisory Commission for the Implementation of E-Voting, a group that pushed forward the resolve of modernizing suffrage once again this year.

The task force held a new meeting recently and agreed on requesting the General Solicitor’s support, along with the National Registrar’s IT Management, to “define the most important technical aspects to be required of companies interested in conducting the e-voting test” being prepared by the Nation.

Last year, the Registrar’s Office made a summons attended by 16 local and foreign companies specialized in two kinds of technology that Colombia intends to use: PCOS (Precinct-Count Optical Scan), based on the use of a ballot box having an optical scanner for counting ballots, and Direct Recording Electronic (DRE), which consists in the use of touchscreen machines that enable voting, storing votes, tallying them, and transmitting them to a data center. This equipment must also have the capacity to print physical proof of the selections made by voters.

The Advisory Commission informed that the companies seeking to furnish electoral technology for Colombia are: Gerencia Ieconsultores, Smartmatic, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Popayán, Dominion Voting, Technology Supplier, Arolén, Sio, Avante International Technology and ID Systems, Scytl, Thomas Greg & Sons Limited (Guernsey), 3M, Colvista, Gestión Informática, Grupo ASD, DPS Data Processing & Systems, Voting Solutions Colombia, and Certicámara.

The Advisory Commission agreed to present the proposal for the gradual implementation of e-voting as soon as possible, and also to approve the technical document with the guidelines for the pilot test that will be delivered to the National Government.

Colombia is advancing slowly but steadily toward automation. The Commission has been active for over two years, but now it exhibits confidence that for 2015 it will complete the cycle that will enable the country to test out the benefits of electoral technology, so that the nation can effectively leave elections with delayed results and fraud allegations in the past.

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