Mexico and India: one progresses in automation and the other establishes itself as a reference for electronic voting

Asymmetries in the use and application of electoral technology are obvious among some countries; a clear example is represented by Mexico and India. While the first has just decided to advance a process of voting automation for its nationals residing abroad. the second achieved a new Election Day where almost a billion people were called to vote.

In the Mexican case, a project is currently being promoted that will facilitate the suffrage of nationals abroad. The National Electoral Institute (INE) announced it has approved the guidelines that must be followed to guarantee the implementation of an automated remote voting model.

The authorities established that the Internet E-Voting System —as it is called— must include stages and key elements such as cryptographic key, voter authentication, monitoring, decryption and counting of votes, and measures to safeguard and preserve the information.

In addition to these factors, the INE resolved that the system must be auditable in all its stages, so that the parties involved in the elections participate in the audits, namely, independent parties and candidates, in addition to the electoral authorities.

The electoral body has warned that although it expects to implement the new system as soon as possible, the are no guarantees that it will be ready for application in the upcoming 2021 elections.

However, it was pointed out that as a legal mandate it will be fulfilled, because the most recent migratory data reveals that some 11,700,000 Mexicans are residing in other nations, and the idea is to guarantee their political rights.

In view of this project, Mexico could assess what has been attained by Estonia, a country that since 2005 has implemented online voting, and in last March elections at least 44% of the voters could vote using this online system.

 Opposite Sides of the World

While Mexico is just now taking its first steps in automation, between April and May India accomplished the most populous electronic elections in the world.

Official data indicate that the census encompassed more than 900 million voters, of which 67% voted along 38 days, divided into seven different stages completed between April 11 and May 19. These figures, which are not comparable with any other electoral process, explain by themselves why Indian authorities worked to automate the voting system. Only with the help of technology could the suffrage be guaranteed under the same conditions for the whole country.

In that sense, the many geographic and population-based complexities led this nation to become a pioneer in the implementation of electronic voting. Actual adoption began in 1998 and was consolidated in 2004 when electronic voting machines (EVMs) became the only means of voting.

The Indian automated model is based on an electronic device or tablet displaying the list of candidates aligned with an array of switches at the sides. The voter selects his favorite candidates using such switches and casts the vote. The devices are manufactured by two local companies, Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited.

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