Fast and transparent results neutralized polarization in Argentina

The night of October 27 brought good news for Argentina, as provisional tallies expedited the processing and publication of results. Immediately after the results were published, incumbent president Mauricio Macri acknowledged his defeat, which brought calm to the country after a political campaign marked by polarization.

Thanks to the new logistics and technology platform implemented, the results were reported in record time. Only three hours after the polls were closed, auditable results were published online and no formal complaints about them have been filed so far.

This successful performance of the voting system was largely possible thanks to the technology recently adopted by the Argentine Post. The software used to transmit telegrams directly from voting schools to the computer center, as well as the technology and services of the provisional count, were provided by Smartmatic.

By the 21st hour, 70.48% of telegrams had been digitized, transmitted and loaded onto the system. By midnight, 96.08% had been processed. Only four years ago, at that same hour it had barely been possible to process less than 10% of telegrams.

In order to achieve this electoral milestone, 11,380 Argentine Mail agents were required, who transmitted telegrams from more than 10,000 voting venues to the computer centers. Further, 1700 operators in those centers were in charge of digitizing and loading results to the system. All this data could be queried online right away by political parties.

What happened in this election cast away the crazy criticisms that were made against the incorporation of electoral technology in the country. In addition to sowing doubt, those baseless criticisms fueled political polarization.

The accuracy of the results is one of the best arguments for those who promote the application of technology to register the vote. Argentina overcame all kinds of obstacles and was able to offer timely and reliable scrutiny, which reflected the popular will and legitimized the new authorities. The positive experience lived on October 27 will be key to promoting the expansion of electoral automation and to continue improving the efficiency and transparency of the elections.

Dominican Republic primary elections plagued with fraud and automated system flaws

The new voting system developed by the Central Electoral Board (JCE, for Junta Central Electoral) of the Dominican Republic had a premiere full of flaws and complaints about irregularities. After this blunder, the great expectations the JCE had raised vanished, and today what is looming is an electoral crisis.

The platform designed by the electoral authorities, premiered at the official primaries of October 6, brought forth more doubts than certainties. Issues range from late voting, plus lack of information for using the technology, up to fraud allegations by presidential candidate Leonel Fernández, of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).

At a press conference, Leonel Fernández warned that there were irregularities with the automated system software’ source code, and that the equipment used during the primaries was supposed to be audited in January but such activity was never carried out.

“What our technicians are witnessing is that an algorithm was installed in the software source code that tampered with the results, that is why in order to anticipate that situation we had repeatedly insisted that the matching of physical votes vs. electronic votes should have been carried out, as it’s done everywhere in the world”, he stated.

In view of this situation, the mission of electoral observers of the Permanent Conference of Political Parties for Latin America and the Caribbean formally requested the Central Electoral Board to increase the manual counting of votes up to 50%.

In addition, they recommended performing this manual audit in view of the fact that a brand-new automated system was used. They considered that it was necessary to raise the percentage of audited votes and to halt the dissemination of preliminary results until there was a significant percentage of the voting centers already counted.

Listín Diario reported that there were inconsistencies in the data supplied by the Central Electoral Board  at the municipal voting level in municipal districts, between the total numbers of people registered in electoral demarcations and the valid votes registered in the voting system.

Apart from the denunciations by presidential candidate Leonel Fernández, some voters warned about flaws and poor elector education for these primaries.

Long lines of voters were observed in several polling stations in the country, which according to complaints collected by the media, were a result of the flaws in the automated system, and in some cases resulted because the JCE sent too few devices to voting centers.

On the other hand, elderly adults had to ask the electoral operators for assistance in order to vote, because they “did not know what automated voting consists of ”, so they asked the JCE to make more information available about electronic voting for the 2020 elections.

For now, while the Central Electoral Board declared that the system had worked well “during a day of pride for the country”, Candidate Leonel Fernandez said he will request the annulment of the elections and that he will call for peaceful demonstrations in the country to denounce the fraud.

The electoral future of the Dominican Republic looks gloomy, without greater transparency or actions aimed at correcting the flaws that appear when an automated voting model is implemented with poor or no planning, and disregarding the successful models of other countries.

Poll workers win big in Philippine elections again

VCM - The Philippines

Source: Newsbytes Philippines

The recent Philippine elections provides an excellent case study on how the proper use of technology can drastically improve the plight of poll workers, long acknowledged as the unsung heroes of elections.

Due to the speed with which election results from precincts were counted and transmitted to the consolidation servers during the country’s midterm elections of May 2019, proclamations for local positions were over in matter of hours. This allowed most poll workers to be safely back at home before midnight of election night.

Since the Philippines began automating vote counting in 2010, poll workers have not only enjoyed shorter working hours but with the system cutting down human intervention to the barest minimum, their exposure to violence and coercion was also greatly reduced.

Automation in the Philippine has already reaped praises from many sectors for fostering the safety and well-being of poll workers. Before the advent of election automation, Philippine poll workers counted and tallied the votes manually, a painstaking process that often took as long as 40 days to finish, and which left the workers extremely vulnerable to intimidation from armed personnel in the payroll of politicians.

This triumph of technology in Philippine elections throws into sharp focus the imperative to address the plight of poll workers elsewhere in the world.  In Indonesia, for example, more than 270 poll workers died due to exhaustion brought about by endless hours of counting in the last elections.  Such a tragedy could have been easily prevented by poll automation.

With the ready availability of technology that works, it behooves election management bodies around the world to act swiftly to improve the welfare of their poll workers.