Monday, July 30, 2012

Highlights of EVOTE2012

Source: EVOTE2012 Facebook Page

The fifth International Conference on Electronic Voting (EVOTE2012) was one of the most anticipated events in the year for the world of electoral technology. The conference, held in Bregenz, Austria from July 11th to the 14th, was deemed a complete success by participants and organizers alike. Hundreds of researchers, developers, government representatives and business people from all around the world gathered at Castle Hofen to share experiences and breakthrough discoveries in e-voting.

This year’s theme for the convention was “Challenges for Electronic Voting – Transparency, Trust and Voter Education”. In this respect, speakers presented various cases of best practices in auditing, testing and verifying elections held through voting machines. Some new technological developments for e-voting were also proposed during the conference.

One of the features that distinguish this prestigious event among the academic community is that in order to be a speaker it’s necessary to enter a paper to apply for a spot. After submitting it, the organizers’ committee evaluates them and approves participation with a conference

Among the many activities and forums held during EVOTE2012, on July 13th there was a workshop about the “Venezuelan Electoral Technology”, in which participants were able to get to know more about the multiple benefits that this platform offers to voters in terms of auditability, accuracy and transparency. Developed by the multinational Smartmatic, and deployed more than 10 times in different electoral events in the country, for the first time the electronic voting solution will include during the upcoming National Election to be held on October 7th, a brand new biometric identification system to perform voter authentication and guarantee the principle one voter - one vote. 

Another interesting conference was offered by Carlos Vegas who talked about “The New Belgian E-voting System”, developed for the upcoming elections of Flanders and Brussels-Capital Regions to be held on October. According to the several academic speakers and experts who exposed about this case, the new system was based on a proposal presented in a comparative study on e-voting requested by the administration to a consortium of Belgian universities. Among the various advantages offered by the system –besides the fact that it was designed and conceived by Belgium academics- is the incorporation of a printed vote receipt that allows the voter to confirm its selection.

Mark Phillips gave another interesting talk: “Testing Democracy: How Independent Testing of E-Voting Systems Safeguards Electoral Integrity”, in which he explained the importance of independent certification for automated voting systems using as an example the successful automated elections of Philippines in 2010. Mark Phillips is President and Chief Executive Officer of SLI Global Solutions.

EVOTE2012 probably the most important event in the year for those involved in the development, implementation, and analysis of electronic voting. The fact that such a great convention has been assembled around electoral technology is a testimony of how much has been achieved in this area, and how promising the future looks for these technology solutions.