The political mind will be tested in 2012

Electronic voting will be used in Mexico for the first time this year.

2012 starts with new hopes for electronic voting around the world. Of the thirty countries that currently use automated voting systems, several will re-test the transparency and security of the electronic vote, but also other nations will prepare to meet the challenge of organizing their first automated elections and others will work in giving legal support to automation.

Having looked at the big picture, 2012 will add achievements to voting technology, but it’ll also test the political will of governments that promote the most effective, efficient and safe way than currently exists to exercise the right to vote: electronic voting.

Among the countries that are betting on join the still selected group of nations with automated voting are Mexico and Peru; meanwhile Dominican Republic will take a first step, automating a phase of the process -tallying-, and in Paraguay the authorities will debate a new legislation to enable electronic voting.

If they complete the programs they are set up, these Latin American nations will be an example of initiative. Doubt looms, since the responsibility and commitment of government authorities will play a key role in providing the resources to meet the processes and in guaranteeing safety in the adoption of electronic voting.

Venezuela will use Smartmatic machines in three elections this year

A case of special attention is Mexico, where in Jalisco -one of three states besides Mexico City and Coahuila that employ electronic voting- after an arduous struggle it was approved a hotly contested bid to automate the vote for the July 1st presidential elections. Although the process of the implementation is unknown, the expectation is that the program will run gracefully, since it will help to win the trust of the electorate, and therefore the nationwide implementation of electronic vote.

In Peru, the opportunity to prove that the electronic voting system designed by the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) works, will happen in September when the eighth recall of municipal and regional authorities will be held. The electoral authority assures to be ready to repeat the success of the experience lived last June in the province of Cañete. The approval of resources will be crucial for the South American country to continue moving forward.

Meanwhile, Dominican Republic, will take a key step into  building trust to modernize their voting process. On May 20th, 2012, when the presidential elections will take place, is expected to automate the tallying as a preliminary phase to the automation of the whole process for 2016.

Another country that expects to change in 2012 is Paraguay. There, the political forces are pushing for the approval of a law regulating the vote of citizens living abroad, so that they can exercise this right in the general elections in 2013. The expectation is that the parliament advances the bill and that this will open a window for implementing online voting instead of voting by mail or in embassies. So far there is no decision, but time is running out for the Superior Court of Electoral Justice (TSJE) to have enough time to organize the elections.

Finally, we close with the revalidation of electronic voting in Venezuela and the United States. In both nations there will be presidential elections, but also in Venezuela the opposition will hold primaries to choose their candidate.

These two countries have shining examples when it comes to the automation of their processes. Venezuela, in partnership with Smartmatic, has more than twelve automated elections. Machines provided with biometric identification devices, touch screens, electronic ballots, paper voting receipt, tallying and transmission of results are some of the strengths that Venezuela’s robust system has.

In the U.S., there are multiple companies involved, since local authorities (counties) are the ones who decide which electoral system it will be used; this accounts for more than 3140 voting systems that are very different one from each other.  Among the models used in the US, we can find machines with touch screens, some with and without a paper voting receipt as well as ballots for voting and optical scanners for scrutiny

Venezuela will set the electoral pace in 2012

Although 2011 has been a year where automation took a leap forward in several Latin American countries and even in Europe, the first half of 2012 will be marked by a greater number of manual elections. In this installment we shall remember the advantages of electronic voting, especially to ensure transparency in the elections.

The electoral pace will be set by Venezuela, where the “Mesa de la Unidad” (MUD) will celebrate its primary elections to be held on February 12, 2012 to determine the presidential candidate who will represent the MUD in Venezuela’s upcoming presidential election to be celebrated on October 7, as well as their candidates for the upcoming regional and municipal elections of December 2012 and April 2013 respectively. These would be the first open presidential primary election in the history of Venezuela, and will be facilitated technically by the National Electoral Council.

In Venezuela, the opposition held the first open primary, with the help of the CNE. Source:

Russia will elect its nation’s president on March 11, and the background is not all positive. After a mid-year trial of electronic voting in some provinces, the legislative elections on December 4 were performed using the manual method and were engaged in loud complaints of election fraud. With this scenario, the nation is headed next year to a presidential election.

Also on March 11 parliamentary and municipal elections will be held in El Salvador, where manual ballots will be used to choose 84 deputies to the Legislative Assembly and 262 mayors of the municipalities. This event will be take the form of “residential voting” which will cover 48.8% of the population that makes up the electoral register, with the intention of bringing closer the polling stations and polling boards. In addition, they will implement the participation of independent candidates, and will include pictures of the candidates on the ballots.

In the case of manual elections, the procedures are recorded on paper and handled 100% by the citizens, so security provisions tend to be focused on the physical safety of the electoral kit. Irregularities often arise such as the alteration of electoral material, loss or damage, impaired movement and exposure to human error.

The automated voting system settles many problems that the manual method has accumulated. The automation involves the auditability (so that the system can be assessed in all its phases) and provides technological alternatives to recognize fraud attempts.  It also ensures safety in the tallying and collection of results, and eliminates a large percentage of human error.

France is another country that will face two major elections in the first half of 2012. On April 22 the election of the president will be held and the second round is set for May 6. Later, in June specifically, the first round of legislative elections will take place, and the second round is scheduled for June 17.

However, one case that will draw attention next year will be the presidential election in the Dominican Republic, an event to be held on May 20, 2012. This Central American country has several years at the crossroads towards electronic voting.  After multiple attempts and the denial in 2006 of the implementation of the pilot plan, they are working on the possibility of automating the tallying for the presidential election in the May 20, 2012 and automating the entire process for the elections of 2016.

After several setbacks, the president of the Central Electoral Board of that country, Roberto Rosario, announced earlier this year that the tallying and consolidation of voting records for the Dominican presidential election of 2012 would be automated and also simultaneously received by political parties, civil society organizations and the media who want to disclose it to the public. This will be a step towards full automation of the elections in that country.

For the second half of 2012 more elections are expected, among the highlights are the presidential of Mexico and Venezuela, and the municipal ones in Lima and Chile