Puerto Rico bets on automation and Guatemala lags behind

PuertoRicoWhile electoral automation in Puerto Rico already has the backing of a novel legal platform, Guatemala has discarded the option of applying any advances during 2015. The Electoral Law of the Free Associated State, an instrument with which Puerto Rico dictates electoral authorities to start the e-voting implementation process, recently came into force. Meanwhile, Guatemalan authorities have frozen any possible decision regarding this matter.

So far, it is known that Puerto Rico will debut using electoral technology during the November 2016 general elections, giving the country almost two years for the State Electoral Commission (CEE) to bring it to the level of automation leaders such as Brazil and Venezuela. This progress also means pulling away from cases like Guatemala, which discarded any advance for this year’s elections in spite of suffering for decades the flaws inherent in manual voting.

It is worth remembering that in order to have efficient and transparent electoral processes, automation is a vital step, but it is not enough. A series of conditions are essential for processes to take place in such a way that the results are an accurate representation of the voters’ intent, and that the citizens perceive such fact.

First of all, it is essential to hold a transparent and clean tender process that clarifies any doubts about the suitability of the chosen company. Besides, it is necessary to have electoral authorities having technical and managerial skills as well as credibility from the public. It is also very important to hire a company with cutting-edge technology and proven experience in the deployment of automated electoral solutions.

Puerto Rico is facing a great challenge that must be met according to the norm: following the steps that guarantee the technology selection and implementation process, as well as holding pilot tests and an informational campaign so that the e-voting model chosen responds to the country’s technical and logistic demands, as well as to people’s expectations and needs.

Both Puerto Rico and Guatemala are facing different challenges, but electoral bodies must take care of all aspects entailed by automation. Technology can be used to facilitate all electoral activities, but its correct and massive use will make all the difference, as opposed to manual processes.