Sunday, May 20, 2012

Irregularities in Zimbabwe expose the vulnerabilities of manual voting systems

This video is a vivid testimony of the numerous problems manual voting often encounters. The picturesque scene depicts an election official communicating voters that they had run out of ballots, and if voting were to be resumed, it would be done by reusing those already cast. Astonished voters expressed their anger, frustration, and determination to vote. 

Incidents such as this one at the local Zanu-PF elections sparked fears of even worse irregularities to come during the future presidential elections to be held this year or next. The worst part is that this was not an isolated incident. In other regions of the country, potential voters were screened for their political affiliation before they were allowed to register to vote.

Zimbabwe is yet another clear example of the need to transition from manual into an integral electronic voting solution. A fully automated and auditable electronic voting system, which includes biometric identification to access the precinct and activate the voting session, can eliminate these types of inconveniences and provide the levels of transparency modern democracies deserve. 

In a world where all the conditions to guarantee the success of an electoral process can be perfectly covered if the right system and provider are selected, “Not enough paper ballots” is an unacceptable excuse for any electoral authority. It’s their duty to provide an electoral kit that covers all citizens expected to exert their right to suffrage.