Monday, August 8, 2011

Where’s E-Voting Heading To?

Eduardo Correia,
Smartmatic's Electoral Unit Vice President
Just as the universe is always changing and as our planet and all living things evolve, society is in constant evolution. That conglomerate of individuals who share ideas, traditions, information, foundations and ideologies, is also evolving towards a more responsible and demanding trend that seeks stronger democratic systems. One of the tools for achieving this objective is the vote, and the transparent election of representative officials.

As technology is an essential part of our daily life, automated voting systems are becoming an appropriate vehicle to attain a solid and legitimate democratic model. Gradually, automated voting systems have been perfected and, as if they were living organisms, they have matured into a successful pattern, already adopted by many nations. What then is the future of electronic voting?

According to Eduardo Correia, Smartmatic’s Electoral Unit Vice President, “today's automated voting systems stem from the idea of ensuring that any election results are determined solely by the will of the voters. Based on the number of previous successful experiences in Brazil, the Philippines and India for over 10 years, processes that have not only been well executed, but also very well received by the electorate, we can say that electronic voting is definitely an irreversible trend”.

A first step toward that future where electronic voting gets to be a global reality will lie in automating manual voting systems. Let's recall that electoral technology comes in different levels. Its successful adoption may require a gradual approach. There is no established formula or a method that works equally for all countries. Nonetheless, a consensus must exist between society and the electoral authority, together with a robust and clear legal framework that meets the needs of the country.

Eduardo Correia speaks of four levels of electoral automation: election administration, automated counting, automated counting of electronic ballots, and electronic voting. Each level involves a series of actions, products and services that meet specific objectives to materialize each stage of the election. The diverse electronic voting implementation experiences have shown that the more levels that are incorporated, the ability to control and eliminate common vulnerabilities in electoral process will be greater.

It has been determined that there are nine critical criteria that have to be included in a latest-generation automated voting system: accuracy, transparency, accountability, speed, flexibility, resiliency, equality, reach and anonymity. It is crucial that these quality criteria are met, and we must expect that in the future every country has an automated voting system with the same maturity levels that currently exist in pioneering countries like Brazil, Belgium and Venezuela, to name a few.

Technology will gradually gain ground and fans and when in the future we talk about electronic voting, of legitimate and guaranteed results, we will be talking about the expression of the electorate’s will, of an efficient electoral power and of an inclusive, invulnerable and virtually perfect electoral system.