Scytl in Ecuador and Mexico: Is it the same screenplay?


The Spanish Company Scytl seems to be developing a knack for controversies, in the same vein as that used in 2014 to lure entrepreneurs like Paul Allen, and investment groups as Vy Capital, in order to tap millions of US$ in investment roundtables.

It is a dangerous combination of incompetency, arrogance and effrontery that made Scytl the center of several scandals around the world, in a very short space of time. Only in 2014, Canada, Norway, Peru and Ecuador suffered firsthand “the Scytl experience”.

In 2015 it is now Mexico´s turn. The National Electoral Commission (INE) contracted this Spanish company last September 30th, 2014 to supply an online accounting system for political parties, made up of three modules: Accounting, Controlling and Transparency.

However, on December 14th alarms went off, as Scytl did not submit the first module of the accounting system on time. Since then, all facts are remarkably similar to what happened a year ago during Ecuador´s sectional elections. On that occasion Scytl failed in its attempt to deliver electoral results on time. It was not about a delay of hours, but of weeks that took Syctl to deliver the results expected that very election evening.

After a whole month of delay in delivering the results in Ecuador, the noncompliance with obligations by Syctl was very evident. In spite of that, the company refused to accept its failures and blamed the Ecuadorian Electoral Commission. To date, the Syctl website refers to the Ecuadorian experience as a total success. Last week, in light of the early termination of the Service Contract by Mexico, the company reacted similarly: washing its hands.

But coincidences do not end with a simple and binding failure of the service. A month after the elections, the Ecuadorian National Electoral Commission (CNE) took action on this matter and Syctl´s Contract was declared null and void. The contract was unilaterally terminated and the corresponding warranty charges were applied.

Through its spokesman, the company´s CEO Pere Valles, expressed his surprise at the Ecuadorian Government procedure and warned of legal actions. But is it a coincidence, or is there a modus operandi here? Precisely this week, after INE´s announcement, Pere Valles was surprised and launched a threat to the Mexican authorities.

In Ecuador (2014), much to the amazement of public opinion, Valles accused Domingo Paredes —then the President of the Ecuadorian Electoral Commission— of having an arrangement with another contractor. “We believe this (the decision) reflects the CNE President´s interest in working with another contractor” said Scytl CEO to EFE

On this occasion and during the MVS news broadcast of Carmen Aristegui, Scytl insinuated that the early termination of the Contract by INE was political in nature.

Time will pass and we will see. INE defends itself giving details on the Contract and explaining why the early termination. As yet, this Scytl threat seems to be just a simple intimidation to the electoral body, in an effort to preserve its reputation in other places, where this story —which is turning into a ritornello— may not make it to the news.

Ecuador’s CNE appoints authorities for the next 3 years


Ecuador

Paúl Salazar, newly elected president of the CNE, salutes his new vice president, Mauricio Tayupanta, after inauguration. Photo: El Tiempo

On January 8th, 2015, the new board of the National Council of Ecuador was elected. Paul Salazar and Mauricio Tayupanta were appointed president and vice president, respectively. Moreover, Juan Pablo Pozo and Nubia Villacís were re-elected as counselors.

Mr. Salazar assumed his new role in the institution proposing an internal review in order to implement reforms conducive to higher efficiency. To this end, he indicated that he considers it necessary to carry out a deep, all-encompassing reform in the operational and legal areas of the Democracy Code.

With the appointment of these new authorities, president Domingo Paredes’ term ended. He led the institution for only three years. One of Paredes’ merits was to achieve a significant international projection for the CNE. During his term, he promoted important agreements with electoral authorities from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Russia, which enabled successful e-voting pilots in the provinces of Azuay and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. On the other hand, Paredes’s impartiality was questioned by those opposing the government of President Correa. Besides, he was strongly criticized for the way he handled certain situations, such as the invalidation of signatures to register political parties, or the failed tallying of precinct counts provided by Scytl, a process whose purpose was to hasten the official results from the past sectional elections.

Regarding electoral automation, Paúl Salazar is ready to meet the scheduled timeline set by the previous administration, in which he served as vice president. In sight there is the goal of automating 5 important provinces by 2017: Azuay, Guayas, Manabí, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and Pichincha. Furthermore, the goal of an automation system able to cover a 100% of the electorate by 2021 does not look too ambitious, in light of the significant lengths advanced in 2014. As a systems engineer, and given the leading role he had in the automation process held during the last elections, Mr. Salazar definitely is well endowed to set this project in motion.