Experts and politicians show the vulnerabilities of Bolivia’s election system


In Bolivia, tallying and aggregation -the two most important stages of the elections- are done manually.

Last March, during Bolivia’s autonomous and municipal elections, the High Electoral Court proved to be very inefficient. The country had to rely on exit polls conducted on Election Day in order to know election results; simply because authorities were unable to process and announce official results timely,

TSE spokesman Ramiro Paredes has admitted that the flaws in the tallying process were caused to “problems in the data transmission system, which overheated, became slow, and did not pass the tests we had prepared.”

Seven months after this paux pas, political parties, electoral specialists, and consultants have mentioned that the worst vulnerability of the election system is the delay in vote counting.

Electoral strategist Ricardo Paz recently acknowledged that “unfortunately we have a very slow tallying program.” He called for the “use of technological tools,” to streamline the process. Following that same line of thought, the election spokesman from the Tarija province, Nolberto Gallardo, pointed out that “it is necessary to keep advancing (…). We need to make improvements to provide better results.”

Norma Piérola, Deputy from the Christian Democrat Party (PDC) joined these voices, considering that the non-implementation of e-voting or “modernized and accelerated computing” was taking a serious toll on the legitimacy of its elections. Officialist senator from the Socialist Movement (MAS), Adriana Salvatierra, also observed that election automation would be favorable.

In light of all these, it becomes utterly evident that the time to act has come for Bolivia and its election authorities. The adoption of an electronic voting system would improve the speed with which results are offered, and would also provide major electoral guarantees.

The problems faced by Bolivia during the latest election processes indicate that the margin for indecision in Bolivia is gone. TSE has said that the country is prepared to take on the technologic challenge—now it must prove that there is also commitment to do so.


Spanish America strives to link technology with popular election


The Spanish autonomous community of Canarias will use tablets for the transmission of results.

The use of technology in the delicate and complex process of organizing elections continues to expand in Spanish America. In addition to the two global benchmarks of the region—Brazil and Venezuela—, there are other countries and regions joining in, such as Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, among others.

Two regions where technology will come closer to voters in the coming months are Mexico and the Spanish autonomous community of the Canary Islands.

In the Canary Islands, the authorities have authorized the use of tablets to speed up the transmission of results. According to the technical specs of the exercise, 1,124 tablets will be used next May 24th at the polling stations where councillors and deputies will be elected, which will speed up the process of vote tally.

This initiative shows that there are procedures that make the benefits of electoral technology evident in terms of optimizing voting processes and enforce guarantees.

In Mexico, where elections will be held in June, the National Electoral Institute (INE) has not made any progress in the development of the automation pilot test that had been promised for this year. However, the state of Chiapas will implement an online voting model that will enable citizens living abroad to participate in the elections. The process is very simple (registration, password generation, and ballot casting), and will set an example for this country, in terms of how technology can become a means of political inclusion.

Parallel to these experiences, Honduras joined the group of nations that seek to generate the legal platform that enables e-voting. A bill is under way in the Parliament for the automation of the 2017 elections. This would allow the region (which has experienced strong political frictions) to find a mechanism that guarantees the electoral will, and along with it, the path to stability.

2015 is already under way and there are several initiatives that put under the spotlight some of the objectives which some countries are pursuing in electoral matters. The good news is that most of the ideas are based on the implementation of e-voting best practices.