Ecuadorian CNE working against the clock

With less than three months for the February 2017 general elections, the Ecuadorian National Electoral Council (CNE) is still acting unsteadily when it comes to technology.

According to the CNE’s last report, the organism declared two biddings as deserted. The CNE hoped to acquire “the data transmission service between the CNE and the 1,818 Transmission and Broadcasting Sites (Rtpa), 450 out of which must have backup provisions for data transmission based on the scanning of precinct counts”.

Ecuador hoped to automate the transmission of these precinct counts having partial results, and was planning on the acquisition of the necessary technology.  However, as per CNE’s president Juan Pablo Pozo, the electoral body preferred to accept the donation of 2 thousand Korean devices for the digitization and transmission of precinct counts. The Asian nation is also to provide the software and training required.

To this date, the public has not been given more details on the technology that will be deployed.  Moreover, the CNE has not explained how the political parties, citizens and authorities will audit the system tasked with processing electoral data.

The most basic standards state that the adoption of any electronic solution should begin with a transparent selection process, pilot tests and public demonstrations.  None of these steps has taken place.

The CNE is taking a huge risk by improvising with the technology in charge of transmitting the votes.  A failure in this process would not only affect the CNE’s reputation and that of the electoral workers, but would also damage the democratic institutions by casting doubts on the electoral results.

It is time for the CNE to face the public and present the technology.

It may be noted that in 2014 it took the CNE almost a month to announce official results due to the failed work of the Spanish company Scytl.  Let us hope history will not repeat itself with technology from another side of the globe.


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