Electoral technology in Salta (Argentina) fails once again


There is concern in Salta over the performance of automated tallying ballot boxes.

Bad news over electronic ballots have become recurrent in the Argentine province of Salta. Numerous setbacks with the technology employed had also been recorded during electoral processes back in 2008 and 2013. Unfortunately, those bad experiences did not functionas warnings and once again, during the Simultaneous and Obligatory Open Primary Elections (PASO) that took place last April 12th, multiple flaws in the machines marred the day’s results.

At the PASO, hundreds of devices presented different kinds of setbacks, and as might be expected, political leaders denounced fraud and requested the termination of the contract with the company in charge of promoting and preparing the technology for future electoral processes.

The formalization of the petition was led by the main opposing coalition, headed by Juan Carlos Romero, from the Renovation Front. The document delivered to the Electoral Court exposes the fact that the electronic ballot box used “breaches the universality, enforceability, and secrecy of suffrage, and appears to be vulnerable to the deployment of fraudulent maneuvers…”

Specifically it was denounced that for instance, 299 (25%) out of the 1188 ballot boxes used at Salta’s capital had to be replaced. Moreover, there were complaints that serving in the election there were devices using unauthorized software, and that out of the 5700 machines employed, only 2862 had been sealed with a security system. There is also an alert on the flaws in the printers, which prevented the printing of dozens of opening and closing minutes, as well as delays due to the poor training of technicians.

What happened at the PASO brings up once again the focus on the performance of the electronic ballot box provided by the local company MSA (Magic Software Argentina). It raises concerns on how it could behave during the general elections that will take place on July 5 in Buenos Aires, where the same technology will be used but with twice the number of voters. We have already talked about this when MSA won the tender (among vices and arbitrary decisions) despite being the most expensive bid, and the company having the least experience. Besides, although this system is offered as e-voting, it is only an automated tallying system and maintains the weakness of manual voting.

The rash of bad experiences in Salta gives rise to the need to demand the revision of the system provided by MSA, not only to safeguard each Argentine citizen’s vote, but also to guarantee the reliability and legitimacy of the representatives elected.