Accuracy and speed: two pending tasks in Mexico’s elections


Mexico had to recount votes from 60% of the polling stations during the federal elections.

Last June 7th, Mexicans headed to the polling stations for its Midterm elections. And after polls closed, instead of releasing results, the National Electoral Institute (INE) had to announce the biggest vote recount in Mexico’s history— 60% of the installed polling stations.

Unfortunately, in some states, the Preliminary Electoral Result Program (PREP) suffered considerable delays due to the processes coordinated by the newly formed body INE. Poorly trained polling station officers delayed the delivery of count reports at the data centers.

The internal report of the recounts showed that in 22,963 out of the 88,444 polling stations recounted, the difference between first and second place was less than the number of void votes. Besides, vote tallies had to be verified in 48,057 cases because the number of votes did not match the number of voters, while 9,929 of the polling stations simply did not have a count report.

Such discrepancies constitute a clear evidence of the poor training operators received and also point at manual voting as a problem in itself. Manual voting brings great disadvantages both for voters and for those who count votes. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the transportation of thousands of voting minutes to hundreds of results consolidation and processing centers can turn into a cumbersome task. The logistic challenges INE faced, which affected the Preliminary Result Program—just another name for an unofficial vote count carried out and disclosed on election day—caused confusion and distrust among the citizens.

This situation forced the authorities to delay the announcement the official tally another seven days. It was only on June 14 when the definitive electoral results were finally delivered.

There is no doubt that Mexico is in the middle of a crossroad: to remain using an obsolete manual voting system which is proving disastrous or to give more protagonism to electoral technology. The adoption of an automated model of tallying or voting would not only eschew double counting and eliminate all these problems (as aggregation would be fast and precise), but it would eliminate the need to conduct preliminary results. Moreover, it would also enable authorities to announce official results only hours after closing the election.


Chubut unfolds, once again, the weakness of the manual vote

elections in the argentinian province of Chubut

On Sunday, March 20th, the Argentinian province of Chubut held elections for governor, but several weeks have passed and still the winner hasn’t yet been announced. A recount of votes was forced, because of the close results (a difference of 1500 votes) and the fraud allegations (irregularities in the proceedings, wrong charging of the ballot and empty ballot boxes), but there’s still no winner.

Chubut’s obsolete electoral system unfolded how the manual vote can delay the publication of the results with the faithful will of the voters, and also, how the credibility of the institutions is affected and how the trust in the electoral processes is broken.

Argentina has been wanting for years to modernize the vote. Some provinces already have legislation to automate processes, and even have implemented 25 pilot projects in order to make possible the automation of the elections. How ever, there’s no current national governmental plans that states the adoption of technology that could allow the modernization of electoral processes in this nation.

In the absence of results in Chubut, the debate on the implementation of electronic voting cornered again the citizens’, the parties’ and even the Argentinian government’s attention. While Daniel Scioli, Buenos Aires Province Governor and President of the Peronist Party, warned that “it’s unacceptable” that Chubut has not enabled informatics mechanisms, Florencio Randazzo, Interior Minister, complained that a website hadn’t been enabled for citizens to follow online the results that were taking place in each city.

The discussion on the need of improving the electoral system that could guarantee reliable, transparent and Speedy results is just starting, but there are some examples that show how implemented systems have worked in some provinces. In Ushuaia three referendums using e-voting have been already implemented, but the approval to use this system in municipal election was suspended in the Legislature.

As in the region of Chubut, the changes for automation in Argentina won’t go through not because of the possibilities technology brings, but because of political aspects that have hobbled the process. The loss of control of the system and the weakening of patronage are often enemies of the adoption of voting technology.