The Simultaneous Mandatory Open Primaries (PASO) of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, which took place last August 9, are still in the eye of the hurricane. Aside from the flaws and setbacks during this event, there was a “preliminary investigation” announced by National Electoral Chamber attorney Jorge Di Lello due to fraud allegations by the candidate of the Frente Renovador party, Felipe Solá.
Although it is still too early to anticipate the eventual outcome of the Solá case inquiry, the issue has further weakened a process that was already ridden with problems. The candidate alleges that he was stolen about 200,000 votes which would have helped him to get 20.70% of the turnout, enough to win the second place instead of a third, which left him out of the race for Governor at the October general elections.
Initial reviews from the media about the internal elections disclosed some situations that cast a shadow of doubt over the results. For example, there were several allegations of delays in the installation of polling stations due to a shortage in ballots, ballot boxes, or absence of authorities. Besides, during the election, there were cases of ballot theft, as well as difficulties to vote, as the ballots were so complex that their size was absurd, up to 1.20m long. This generated discomfort and distrust.
Toward the end of the process, problems related to the slow tallying arose. 15 hours later, there was still no information about the election’s outcome. This brought to light once again the need for Argentina to modernize its voting system and leave behind its archaic methods in favor of technology.
When making a balance of the election, Mauricio Macri, one of the presidential candidates, called for the adoption of an e-voting model that truly safeguards the people’s intent. The country does not have a law regulating automation at the national level. Instead, each province is autonomous in the definition of its electoral system.
Some regions, like Salta and the city of Buenos Aires, currently use automated tallying. Although performance has not been entirely bad, it has shown to be lacking, as key electoral stages are still prone to human error.
One of the great advantages of automation is that it minimizes the capriciousness of those in charge of polling places, minimizing intentional and unintentional flaws, while making voting easier and speeding up processes that are usually cumbersome nowadays. Argentina still has time to follow the path toward the adoption of a 100% automated e-voting system.