During the 2016 Peruvian presidential elections, both manual and e-voting had setbacks, the former due to its inability to cope with the challenges posed by close margins (i.e. the need for a quick and precise count), and the latter due to a lack of technology updates.
Having this poor performance as a reference, the Peruvian e-voting model will experience a trial by fire in December, during the country’ s municipal elections, given that its effective use could be the push the country needs to finally embrace its full adoption, or end up paralyzing it.
In this new channel, the National Office for Electoral Processes (ONPE), has decreed that 12 districts will use an e-voting model (in-person) designed by the office to choose some of the 18 mayors and 90 aldermen.
Another six locations will employ an Automated Counting System (SEA), which uses a computer for the transcription and transmission of results to a tally centre, as opposed to a manual process.
The Peruvian e-voting system consists of a card that must be inserted in the voting machine to activate options on a touchscreen. The voter presses their choice, which the system processes and stores, before printing a voting voucher at the end.
Until now, it is not known whether the electoral organism will perform any upgrades to the automated vote. Although the ONPE followed the best practices in the region to design their model, the technology has not been updated in years, and they also neglected the logistics and preparation for the process, which in 2016 translated in an almost total lack of information of the voters and poll workers.
Starting from this fact, and 18 months since the last election, there is the hope that the electoral body has corrected these flaws, so they can give the country the secure and transparent process that electoral technology can provide.
The importance of making these changes lies in that, if there is actual progress in the adoption and application of e-voting technology, the noncommittal stance of Peruvian authorities toward e-voting could finally change.