Transparency: luxury guest to the Argentine 2019 elections

On Sunday, August 11, Argentina will embark on an intense electoral calendar for 2019, that includes the Open, Simultaneous and Compulsory Primary (PASO, for Primarias Abiertas, Simultáneas y Obligatorias), general elections to be held in October, and a potential second round in November.

One of the main novelties of this series of elections involves a provisional tally. Electoral authorities have implemented important logistical and technological changes to improve this process and increase transparency. Let’s look at some of the transparency guarantees offered by the new provisional tally process.

Timely results. As Argentina has manual voting and counting, the authorities carry out a provisional count to offer the country preliminary results within a few hours of closing the polls. The provisional tally is purely informative and is devoid of legal relevance. However, it does have a great relevance in view of the fact that today the population is used to the immediacy of information that social networks, mobile phones and other technologies allow. Transparency begins with the availability of timely information.

Direct transmission of telegrams. Telegrams with partial results will be digitized and transmitted to computer centers by installing scanners in some 11,000 of the 15,000 schools that will function as voting centers. Thanks to the decentralization in the process of digitizing the telegrams, the physical transfer to the computer centers will be avoided, which will save time. The telegram will never be lost sight of during physical transfer, thus eliminating what was known as “blind spots.” Lost and missing telegrams will become a thing of the past.

Traceability. Thanks to security mechanisms such as a unique bar codes that each telegram will have, political parties will be able to follow their trail, and they will know the time it was scanned and transmitted, and their reception time.

Defense in depth. The new system follows a scheme called “Defense in depth” that involves a sum of several protective layers to safeguard the information of the tally. Security layers include: system access control, digital signatures, private channels for data transmission and information encryption.

Results visible to all. The telegrams will be scanned and transmitted in the presence of voting station authorities, general prosecutors and supporters. The new scheme is more transparent, since the possibilities of auditing and supervising this solution are greater. Never before in Argentina could parties monitor the transmission and reception of each telegram.

Redundancy.  For the first time, the Correo Argentino Office has installed two computer centers, one in Barracas and another in Monte Grande, to which all the electoral information will be sent. Information redundancy is a very important additional protection layer. According to Luciano Parola, director of Correo Argentino Technology: “This is a contingency plan in case of disasters: in case the power goes out, the neighborhood gets flooded or if some other problem arises.”