Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Successfully Automate an Election

When properly implemented, e-voting brings a substantial improvement of the government’s ability to serve its citizens with transparency and efficiency. Note the words “when properly implemented.”

It’s important to remember that the adoption of voting technologies is not limited to the mere usage of voting machines. In order for these devices to be used correctly, offer seamless performance during the electoral event, and yield accurate results, a good voting technology company requires a series of suitable actions and adequate software.. But what does this all mean? Let’s take a look at the process that will ensure a successful election when a country decides to implement e-voting.

Once the implementation of e-voting is approved by the government, a tender process begins to select the company that will provide the technology. Good e-voting companies should have a perfect track record that speaks for them. They also need to guarantee that their e-voting solution will be tailored to the specific needs of the country, as electoral activities and legal frameworks are different in every nation. Needless to say, transparency should be key in the bidding process, as it is precisely part of what the e-voting company is offering.

After a company is selected, it is expected that it prepares, executes and delivers the project on time and on budget. This requires skilled and experienced consultants and best practices to be proven effective. Here, the company’s past experience is critical to determine if it is up to the challenge of handling the elections they have been hired for.

A good e-voting company provides support and operation centers capable to solve any field contingency, information and communication systems and software for real time monitoring, well-defined logistics for deployment and withdrawal of equipment, and available training, documentation and course materials. Furthermore, the company must allow for audits to be performed before, during and after the election.

Now, what is needed in order to carry out a successful election, equipment-wise? The voting machine cannot operate on its own, so adequate software must be installed for a user-friendly voter experience. Also, an e-counting system must be integrated to eliminate manual vote counting, which is cumbersome and could be laded with human error. Additional features are an added value that an above-average e-voting company will offer. Some of these include biometric authentication systems, which enhance security and protect the one voter, one vote principle.

As we can see, many factors come to play when it comes to automating an election. Electronic voting is an important step for the benefit of democracy in which the quality of the electoral technology company selected will reflect on the quality of the electoral process.