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.