Chile will hold general elections in a month. Preparations are at a fever pitch, and so are expectations about turnout. The chronic voter abstention in the nation put the spotlight last year on the need to modernize the voting process; in reality no changes have been made for the upcoming November 19th vote.
The Chilean Electoral Service (Servel) reported that to choose the president, 155 deputies, 50 senators and hundreds of regional councils, there is an infrastructure in place that includes 2,156 polling centres, with 42,890 stations in them; abroad, some 110 polling centres with 162 stations will be made available.
According to the organism, everything is set for 14 million Chileans to go to the polls, and revert the electoral apathy seen in their last elections, the October 2016 municipal elections, which saw around 65% abstention.
This figure motivated former president and current candidate Sebastián Piñera and the Avanza Chile Foundation to present the government with a project last year which contemplates “early” voting for future Chilean elections, aiming at increasing turnout and correcting flaws such as their hard-to-handle voting ballots.
The proposal would mean adopting a yet unspecified automated voting system, which would open voting for 15 days before the election and close it 5 days before. It would be designed for both official elections and plebiscites.
Although this initiative gives an opening for the country to bank on their strengths (democratic stability and credible institutions), and make voting easier for their citizens through technology, for now Chile still goes to the polls without even having begun to search for a voting process that boosts turnout and strengthens the system.
Still, knowing that technology is a perk that improves accessibility and simplifies the voting process, this option remains available for future elections.