In Argentina, during the preparations for the Simultaneous and Mandatory Open Primaries (Paso) to be held in August, events that some authorities, politicians and citizens have already labelled a scandal have surfaced: the awarding of the “provisional vote count” to a company accused of irregular procedures.
We are talking about Indra, the Spanish company that has been handling the provisional vote count for Argentina for several years, and which now is facing high profile legal troubles.
Their headquarters in Spain were raided during an investigation into the illegal financing of electoral campaigns. Additionally, the Brazilian judiciary forbade the company from doing business with the country’s public sector.
There has been a flood of criticism in Argentina as a result of the way the bidding process was tailored in favour of Indra.
According to local media, the awarding of the contract was surrounded by several questionable events; for instance, Indra’s General Director Ricardo Viaggio is a former employee of the Macri Group. The awarding process was delegated to the Argentinian Postal Service and not to the Ministry of the Interior or the National Electoral Directorate. The CEO of the Argentinian Postal Service, Jorge Irigoin, also has ties to the current administration.
Beyond the alleged traffic of influences, there are also complaints about the delay in the convocation for the bid (less than two months away from the primaries), so no other bidder would have the time to meet the demands of the process except Indra, which had performed the service before.
The National Electoral Chamber not only questioned the selection of this company and the procedure employed, but also the fact this provisional count is under control of the Executive and does not involve the Judiciary. On their part, NGO Transparencia Electoral demanded that the software used for this vote count be audited, given the irregularities in the contracting process.
Reviewing these events, it is clear the Argentinian Executive Branch, far from wanting to replicate best practices in voting automation, where no guarantee too many, has chosen to favour interests not related to the integrity of the process.
By conducting a bid far removed from the highest standards expected in such scenarios, they have seriously harmed electoral credibility.
We will have to wait to fully know the consequences of what happened in Argentina, but it is certain that the electorate’s trust on their institutions has been lessened once more.