Argentina is immersed in a debate on electoral reform. While the proposal set forth by the Executive is being considered on a federal level, some provinces are also working to bring about changes in their regions. The common thread in all these negotiations seems to be electronic voting.
If we look at the path followed nationally so far, it is important to mention that the Chamber of Deputies has already annexed a paragraph to the bill, stating that the adoption of voting technology must be progressive, establishing in principle that between 30% and 50% of districts should use an automated voting model for 2017, while national application would be reached in 2019.
Along this clause for gradual adoption, there is the decision that the country must adopt a Single Electronic Ballot (BUE), a model employed in Salta, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires and which has had a mixed performance; it has worked relatively well in some elections, but has always raised doubts on its capacity to safeguard the people’s will.
These two aspects in the electoral reform generate uncertainty and worry. Although the international standards warn about the need to implement voting automation progressively, Argentina has already done this for several years, making it contradictory to delay the process even more.
A topic that has not gotten enough attention is the need for any technology selected to be 100% auditable. It was only known that the National Electoral Chamber (CNE) signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UND) to “improve” control of the e-ballot, but nothing has been stated about how this will occur.
Facing this reality, there are some troublesome points that should receive greater attention from politicians. Why automate only the vote count instead of the voting process as a whole? Why focus on applying the technology in certain regions instead of expanding farther? Why is there little being said about audits on the BUE?
The negotiations are still ongoing, so Argentina still has time to expand the debate. This is not just about taking a step forward in the use of electoral technology, but about selecting the most secure and efficient automated voting model for the nation.