Last December, the Peruvian National Council of the Magistracy (CNM) presented the surprising decision to announce that the head of the National Office of Electoral Processes (Onpe), Mariano Cucho, would not be ratified in his position.
According to the CNM arguments, Cucho’s non-fulfilment of some of the objectives planned for his three year tenure (2013-2016) triggered his exit. The delay in the application of e-voting was the item that carried the most weight in the CNM’s evaluation which ruled Cucho should be dismissed.
In the document stating his dismissal, the Council states that “electronic voting was one of (Cucho’s) main proposals, it was a part of his postulation report and a favourable indication for his appointment (…) However, the performance of our evaluation’s subject has only generated mistrust, due to results that have been less than satisfactory”.
Specifically, the document details how during Cucho’s term the number of districts with e-voting went down from 30 to 19, that the financial goals regarding automation were not met, and in the end there were no advances toward the implementation of electoral technology.
Peru has the legislation in place to modernize voting, and has an electronic voting model which has been undergoing testing for years. Despite this, the electoral authorities have not been up to the challenges that come from implementing an automated voting model.
For instance, instead of moving forward with voting machines and strengthening their security characteristics, during the first round of voting – April 10th 2016 – the number of automated voting circuits had to be reduced. Still, the results for these elections and for those in June (second round) were negative.
The reasons for the misuse of e-voting are rooted in the fact that the ONPE, which at first intended to follow best the practices in the region to design their e-voting system, has neglected its improvement. Meanwhile, the organism has also neglected the election logistics and preparation, a fact that made evident during last year’s voting through the scant or null information that both voters and poll workers had.
The CNM’s decision opens a new possibility for automation in Peru. Currently, there are 13 people vying to become the head of the Onpe, and there are hopes that by late February there will be an appointment. The delay in applying electoral technology has been costly for Chucho, but it could be the incentive that manages to do away with the indecisiveness regarding voting automation.