In times when manual voting has had unfortunate consequences for countries across the region (Colombia, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Argentina and Haiti), it is worth taking a look at the characteristics of electronic voting, a model that presents itself as the transparent and secure alternative supporting the will of the people.
Manual elections have a long history of failures, mainly due to the fact that results depend on flawless behaviour from many players (poll centre workers, witnesses, political parties, electoral body officers, etc.), as well as on the proper filling of forms and statements, information transmission, and safe transport of materials to tallying stations.
To fight fraud and create greater trust, a voting system must be capable of faithfully recording votes, preserving their secrecy (of both choices and voter identities), showing a vote count that respects the will of the people, guaranteeing that results are tamper-proof, allowing the auditability of different processes, and also being user-friendly to all voters.
All of these conditions are met through electronic voting, which offers tools that minimize human intervention in the most important tasks, and therefore gets rid of errors and fraud. The process relies on equipment specifically designed and built to process, count and transmit vote results that are absolutely trustworthy.
One of the strong points offered by this technology is biometric authentication through fingerprints. Every voter has his/her fingerprint captured for identity authentication and to avoid double voting or identity fraud.
Another interesting element is that e-voting allows for performing audits before, during and after the election. These are usually conducted in the presence of the electoral body and political party representatives; the latter, having opposing interests, want to make sure the process has integrity, and to validate its security elements actually provide exact and reliable results. Venezuela is an example of the vast possibilities for audit that this technology presents.
A major advantage of automation is that its design can be tailored to the idiosyncrasies or technical requirements of each country, which makes the voting process easier. In Brazil, where a number is assigned to each candidate, the choice was to create a voting device with a keypad to replicate their original voting method.
Additionally, automated vote count and results transmission have possibilities which are practically impossible to replicate with manual counting. Voting machines were designed to add votes electronically and also encrypt them, therefore avoiding errors in the vote count or the filling of official statements, but they are also capable of transmitting this data to a tallying centre securely, curtailing fraud and other vices inherent to manual vote counts. The use of voting machines also expedites the process of proclaiming winners.
After reviewing the strengths of e-voting, it is clearly obvious that not only it minimizes human error, but also simplifies logistics. Adopting some of the models available in the market would guarantee compliance with the demands of an election, and it would also allow countries to make their voting events completely immune to tampering.