The Dominican Republic awaits answers after electoral technology failures

After the May 15 general elections in the Dominican Republic, the nation once more has witnessed examples of malpractice in the implementation of electoral technology.

Following elections where irregularities where listed by local and foreign organizations, and where the failures and vices were of such magnitude that Central Electoral Board (JCE) member Eddy Olivares filed a complaint against the board, hoping to clear what happened and open a space for rectification.

For this last process, the JCE hired Spanish-based Indra Sistemas to provide biometric identification and automated voting technology. Logistic, technical and operational errors found in both the fingerprint capture devices and the vote counting machines, were alarming.

Facing this situation, Olivares asked by means of a letter for all electronic counting devices purchased from Indra which failed during the voting to be audited so a case can be constructed against the Spanish company, to have it answer for the significant damage done to the integrity of elections, the JCE’s reputation and the electoral system.

Olivares’ letter includes what the Organization of American States (OAS) stated: “…that the main fragility of the day was the use of the [voting] devices, given they were missing from several polling centres or had connectivity or operation problems, and in some other cases tech support technicians did not show up”; while the Unsaur claimed that “the material for automated voting and voter identification was, in many cases, absent, incomplete and/or defective”.

Although there were plenty of issues raised, the JCE underestimated the accusations and has not replied to Olivares, but it is clear that the board must heed the demands that several political parties have made and establish responsibilities, because what is at stake is the integrity of the nation’s electoral system and therefore its democracy.

Peruvians celebrate automation success

A joint effort, between the National Office for Electoral Processes (ONPE) and the National Electoral Jury (JNE), allowed the successful New Elections in Metropolitan Lima last November 24th. Collaboration and commitment proved key to making the partial implementation of e-voting possible. Find the review here.

Ecuador arms itself with two e-voting models


CNE approved the implementation of e-voting in the Azuay and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas provinces. Photo: CNE

Far from being daunted by the typical complications of undertaking migration from manual to electronic voting, Ecuador has turned resistance into the engine that powers change. This week it was able to guarantee the use of two different technologies for the pilot test that will automate the February 2014 elections in the Azuay and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas provinces. By ratifying the old saying, “where there is a will, there is a way,” Ecuador not only applied e-voting in the country, but it also flaunted its capacity to negotiate, and it reached an agreement with Argentina and Venezuela to use their models of automated suffrage.

The strategy of the National Electoral Council is to show the country the advantages of automation, and at the same time, to test two technologies that allow for the generation of a solution that can adapt to the legal, logistic, and electoral necessities of the country.

Counselor Nubia Villacís stated that suffrage through electronic means brings the “possibility of having multilingual interfaces (Spanish, Quechua) on a single device, incorporating devices to enable suffrage for illiterate people and for people with visual disabilities, and it also provides safe and reliable systems that reduce manual processing to the minimum, as well as precision and speed in obtaining results.”

By signing a cooperation agreement with Venezuela, this country will facilitate the mechanisms to implement e-voting in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. This region, with 219,526 voters, will debut in the use of voting machines with touchscreen and vote receipt printing capacity, which will permit a comparison between the results from automated tallying and manual scrutiny at the end of the event. Venezuelan technology is provided by the multinational Smartmatic.

The agreement with Argentina, which will favor automation in the region of Azuay, seeks that the 600,000 registered voters in this area use e-voting ballot boxes with smart ballots, which store votes in a chip, allow blank votes and void votes, and emit a printed vote receipt.

Having chosen the election models that will constitute the basis for automation, Ecuador has even already stipulated that during the next six months it will combine training with the diffusion of the e-voting systems in order to ensure the success of the test. This country did not falter, and in a few months it will join the vanguard group of electoral technology usage.