The ABCs of e-voting (Part II)

electronic votingThe basic concepts of e-voting not only allow for an approach to the voting model that is gaining ground worldwide, but also for understanding the transcendental leap that countries are taking when leaving behind manual voting and its shortcomings, and opening themselves to the possibilities offered by electoral technology.

What follows are some concepts to help readers understand what is automated voting and how it operates.

6.- Direct-Recording Electronic voting machines (DRE) Among the several mechanisms available for automation, this one is the most used internationally. It consists of marking votes directly on a machine through a touchscreen, buttons or a similar instrument.
The voting information is stored in the (voting machine) computer’s storage, a diskor a smart card.  It’s different from other systems, since it transmits results when the polls close and therefore does not require network connectivity during the election. It guarantees a quick and secure count at the end of the day. An advantage offered by some DRE machines is the emission of a voting voucher.

7.-Optical scan voting systems: This is an automation procedure for vote counting, where an optical  ballot reader or scanner is used; this device reads ballots of special designs  hand marked by voters, which are fed manually into it. This way the votes are registered and tallied.  The device stores the count in its memory.  In America, the only country that has partially used this technology is Argentina (Salta province and the city of Buenos Aires).

8.- Biometrics: Biometric information  went from being a technology commonly used in the business world (as a mechanism for access control, for instance) to being adopted by the electoral world.  Today, some countries can be an example for those that lack tools to verify the identities of voters; a couple of such examples would are  Brazil andVenezuela, leaders in electoral technology in Latin America, where e-voting models that include biometrics are in use.
The South American giant has machines with numerical keypads that register the user’s fingerprints before the voting takes place, while Venezuelans have an Integral Authentication System (SAI), fingerprint capture devices that unblock the attached voting machines only in the case of successful biometric authentication.

9.- Voter Verified Paper Trail, (VVPAT): With the intention of guaranteeing the reliability of the vote, those countries that choose to use e-voting tend to use voting machines capable of printing voting vouchers.
This method is called “Voter Verified Paper Trail” or VVPAT This is a valuable technique that lets the voter check in real time that the choices printed on paper match the ones  that were registered at the machine.    The voucher also allows to check printed vote receipts against the automated tallies in the precinct counts, in audits performed after polls close or later on.

10.- Electoral guarantees: Electoral guarantees are rules and tools that allow a State, usually the entity organizing the event, and the voters to have secure elections in a stable environment.  Elections guarantees not only come from the several automated mechanisms that enhance security and its perception during voting, but also from all the legal instruments and agreements between the political actors that give greater transparency to the process.