Chile goes to the polls expecting to increase turnout


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.

27 elections to take place before the year’s end, four in Latin America


Despite September being just around the corner, the electoral calendar is still quite full, including 27 elections in four continents.  Four Latin American countries will go to the polls before the end of 2017.

This list was compiled by the Election Observers Network of Latin America and the Caribbean, who inform that in the hectic electoral schedule for the rest of 2017 there will be 10 presidential and seven legislative elections, while the rest will be primaries and municipal elections.

Some of the events will take place simultaneously in several countries in the same month; four of these countries are Latin American.  Argentina will hold elections in August and October; Chile and Honduras will have theirs in November, and Venezuela will have them in July and December. Additionally, the American states of Virgina and New Jersey will also vote.

Electoral preparations already began in Argentina, where, in the middle of a scandal regarding the award of a contract for the temporary vote count service, marred by suspicions of traffic of influences and a fixed bid,  their primary elections (Simultaneous and Mandatory Primaries, PASO) were moved up to August 13th. Argentina will hold parliamentary elections in October.

Meanwhile, Venezuela will employ electronic voting once more. After calling for elections for the National Constitutional Assembly for July 30th, electoral authorities have announced regional elections for October.

November will see the Chilean presidential elections (on the 19th) and Honduras (set for the 26th).  As for the latter, there is a scandal unveiled by theNational Anti-Corruption Council (CNA), which questioned Mapa Soluciones and other companies involved in the Preliminary Results Transmission System (Trep) and the Integrated Count and Result Broadcast System (Siede) These companies are under investigation due to the irregularities in the award of several contracts, an accusation that also reaches the current board of the Honduran Supreme Electoral Court (TSE).

In the case of Chile, the election set for November 19th could be used as a starting point for the renewal of their voting system. The country experiences strong voter apathy at the moment. Abstention hovers around 60%, which has led experts to agree that the nation must strive to modernize its voting mechanisms.

As for the United States, on November 7th two States will test once more the diverse e-voting models at their disposal. The voting in Virginia and New Jersey could show the need for software and hardware renewal (some parts of the country are lagging in updating), but it could also show the advantages in security, ease and speed that come with technology.

In the rest of the world, India began their road to presidential elections on July 25th.  Presidential elections will also be held in Rwanda (August 4th), Kenya (August 8th), Singapore (sometime in September), New Zealand (September 23rd), Liberia (October 10th), Kyrgyzstan (November 19th) and Slovenia (sometime in December).

Each and every one of these elections will be a great chance for electoral technology to shine. While Venezuela and the United States will confirm their leading status in e-voting technology, other nations will need to keep pushing for modernization, and for a more transparent selection procedure for the companies they choose to this end.

Seventy-nine elections around the world in 2017


upcoming-elections-in-2017-map

According to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a total of 79 elections will take place around the globe in 2017. Forty-six countries in all five continents will go to the polls to choose their presidents and lawmakers.

Africa and Asia lead the list with 12 nations in each continent holding election while 10 European countries will also conduct theirs.

While the rise of radicalism is stoking fears in countries such as France and Germany, concerns about electoral practices preoccupy Rwanda, Congo and some South American nations.

The first nation to hold elections in South America will be Ecuador. On February 17th, the country will choose a successor for Rafael Correa who has been president for 10 years). It will also be a litmus test for the election machines it borrowed from Korea, which the country was forced to use after its poll body declared a failure of bidding.

Peru is scheduled to hold municipal elections in some districts on March 12th.  Many are worried that the lack of commitment by the authorities would prevent the rest of the country from using the e-voting mechanism designed by the country’s National Office of Electoral Processes (Onpe).  Although 19 electoral circuits have voted using machines for some years, the jurisdictions electing their mayors this year will have to settle for the same manual voting that prevented them from getting timely results during the presidential election last year.  In that occasion, the nation had to wait for a week to get the official results.

In November, Chile and Honduras also go to the polls to elect their presidencies, while the Central American nation will additionally choose their members of congress.

The November 19 Chile could also serve as a reboot of the country’s electoral system which is currently beset with voter apathy with abstention reaching around 60%. Meanwhile, Hondurans, who will go to the polls on November 30th, must speed up their discussion on electoral reforms if they wish to see any improvements in the short term.

Regional elections in Venezuela are scheduled to take place in the first semester of the year, while local elections should take place near the end of 2017. The country has been positive case study of electoral automation.  Helped by the multinational Smartmatic, Venezuelans have held over a dozen successful electronic elections. The country has been on the cutting edge of election technology, pioneering the use of voting machines that biometrically identify voters, touch screens, electronic ballots, printed voting vouchers, and automated procedures for vote tallying and results transmission.

Electoral commissions in Latin America are virtual hives of activity when it comes to the latest electoral technology. Venezuela is set to cement its leadership in e-voting , Peru and Ecuador are expected to continue pushing toward modernization, while Honduras and Chile find themselves at a crossroads — innovate or be left behind.