According to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a total of 79 elections will take place around the globe in 2017. Forty-six countries in all five continents will go to the polls to choose their presidents and lawmakers.
Africa and Asia lead the list with 12 nations in each continent holding election while 10 European countries will also conduct theirs.
While the rise of radicalism is stoking fears in countries such as France and Germany, concerns about electoral practices preoccupy Rwanda, Congo and some South American nations.
The first nation to hold elections in South America will be Ecuador. On February 17th, the country will choose a successor for Rafael Correa who has been president for 10 years). It will also be a litmus test for the election machines it borrowed from Korea, which the country was forced to use after its poll body declared a failure of bidding.
Peru is scheduled to hold municipal elections in some districts on March 12th. Many are worried that the lack of commitment by the authorities would prevent the rest of the country from using the e-voting mechanism designed by the country’s National Office of Electoral Processes (Onpe). Although 19 electoral circuits have voted using machines for some years, the jurisdictions electing their mayors this year will have to settle for the same manual voting that prevented them from getting timely results during the presidential election last year. In that occasion, the nation had to wait for a week to get the official results.
In November, Chile and Honduras also go to the polls to elect their presidencies, while the Central American nation will additionally choose their members of congress.
The November 19 Chile could also serve as a reboot of the country’s electoral system which is currently beset with voter apathy with abstention reaching around 60%. Meanwhile, Hondurans, who will go to the polls on November 30th, must speed up their discussion on electoral reforms if they wish to see any improvements in the short term.
Regional elections in Venezuela are scheduled to take place in the first semester of the year, while local elections should take place near the end of 2017. The country has been positive case study of electoral automation. Helped by the multinational Smartmatic, Venezuelans have held over a dozen successful electronic elections. The country has been on the cutting edge of election technology, pioneering the use of voting machines that biometrically identify voters, touch screens, electronic ballots, printed voting vouchers, and automated procedures for vote tallying and results transmission.
Electoral commissions in Latin America are virtual hives of activity when it comes to the latest electoral technology. Venezuela is set to cement its leadership in e-voting , Peru and Ecuador are expected to continue pushing toward modernization, while Honduras and Chile find themselves at a crossroads — innovate or be left behind.