Automation enables fast organization of elections in Venezuela


Venezuela has a fully-automated voting system. Photo: Noticias24

The political conflicts Venezuela is currently experiencing hastened the departure of two of the 335 mayors chosen just last December. The vacant spots will be filled on May 25th, when the districts of San Cristóbal, capital city of the state of Táchira, and the municipality of San Diego de Carabobo attend the polling stations to elect new authorities.

Normally, calling for elections and organizing them in less than two months —the destitutions took place in March— would be a daunting challenge for any country, but not in Venezuela. Since 2004, this South American nation has been using a flexible and safe system that enables a completely automated suffrage, and makes the organization of an election a much simpler task.

This very same technology, provided by Smartmatic, allowed the National Electoral Council in 2013 to organize a presidential election in 34 days after the demise of president Hugo Chávez. Thanks to technological and knowledge transference, the electoral authority now has all it takes to successfully conduct all the stages of the election, including voter authentication through fingerprint scanning, voting through touchscreen devices with electronic ballot, automated scrutiny, and even the announcement of results on the electoral body’s website.

One aspect of the system which is particularly interesting is the level of auditability it offers. Despite the little time authorities had to set up the voting platform, 13 tests will be performed to allow technicians from all the concerned parties to audit the electronic voting machines, biometric identification devices, aggregation software, etc. In addition, and after the election, a closing audit will take place. This consists in proving that all the vote receipts deposited in approximately 54% of the ballot boxes match the scrutiny minutes.

Another element that can be easily managed by Venezuela now is electoral training. In one decade, the country has carried out 15 automated elections, which implies that voters are more than used to voting in machines—not to mention that the technology is user-friendly.  A study conducted last October by the Andrés Bello Catholic University revealed that 82% of Venezuelan voters consider that e-voting “makes voting easier.”

Just hours away from these elections, Venezuela is ready to go. The e-voting platform certainly played a key role in allowing these elections to be executed in less than 60 days.