Mexico, a country that has been trying for years to overhaul its electoral system, has finally taken a major step forward by formalizing one of the first remote voting projects in Latin America.
Although the initiative does not yet cover elections contemplated in the constitution and is yet limited to the election of community-based Citizen committees and People’s Councils, it is a process backed by authorities and approved by the Federal District Electoral Institute (IEDF).
The pilot involves the use of an Internet voting mechanism, a simpler and more rudimentary version of the system used in countries like Switzerland and other democracies which have become more savvy in the use of internet technology for elections. Nevertheless, the initiative is important in that it introduces the use of electoral technology in the Mexican capital.
The voting mode to be used between August 31st and September 1st (traditional voting takes place on September 4th) covers two options: remote voting or in-situ voting at polling stations. For the former, a computer, tablet or personal cellphone can be used, whereas for the latter the voter will have to travel to strategic points in Mexico City to vote using equipment owned by the Institute.
According to the characteristics of the system made public by the IEDF, the residents of the capital who wish to vote remotely must pre-register on the Institutes’s website, in order to get an Internet voting key mandatory to activate the system.
The pre-registration password will be just one of the security mechanisms: when voting, citizens must enter a set of requested data (their user key, the OCR number in their voting credential and the Internet key), after which they will receive a message on their cellphones with a single use code (token) required by the system, and which is only valid for a brief period of time. Only then will the screen show the voting options.
Councilwoman Olga González stated that the double authentication process for voters “will guarantee the one voter, one opinion, one vote principle”, a fundamental characteristic of every voting system that claims to be safe and transparent.
The scope may be modest, yet obervers hope that it will demonstrate to voters the immense gulf that separates the manual and automated elections and provide the impetus for the country to finally modernize its elections.