On December 10th, 18 Peruvian districts will elect municipal authorities for the first time. Although this vote is not as far reaching when compared to national elections, it will be important because it will be a test run that will show whether the National Office for Electoral Processes (ONPE) managed to sort out the problems that marred last year’s presidential elections.
As you may remember, in 2016 both manual and electronic voting had important setbacks. The former, due to its inability to cope with the challenges posed by close margins -namely the need for a quick and precise count- and the latter owing to its lack of technical updates.
In December, six of the 18 districts that will elect municipal authorities will do so manually, while 12 will use a in-situ e-voting modality designed by the electoral body.
The Peruvian automated voting system consists of a card that must be inserted in the voting machine to activate options (candidates) on a touchscreen. The voter presses the option of their choice, which the system processes and stores, before printing a voting voucher and closing the process.
Another six locations will employ an Automated Counting System (SEA), which uses a computer for the transcription and transmission of results to a tallying centre.
The ONPE has divulged very few details on the improvements made on both voting modalities. In the case of e-voting, the director of the body’s Regional Coordination Office, Orestes Arpasi Canqui, has only stated that voting will take little time and that results will transmitted quickly.
In addition to that said by Arpasi, it would be ideal for the government body to update the technology, which has remained unchanged for years, and to fix the logistics and preparation for the elections, since in 2016 these shortcomings were clearly evident, as seen in the almost non-existent information that voters and poll workers had.
Peru has only two choices for the 10th: improvement or repeating old mistakes. Progress in the use and application of e-voting will hinge on this choice. So far, e-voting has been confined to a few districts, when it has all the potential to improve the voting experience for citizens all over the country.