|Flag, by Guillermo Esteves|
All eyes were set on Venezuela last October 7th as its citizens elected their president for the next 6 years through electronic means. With 55% of the votes, Hugo Chávez was declared winner against Henrique Capriles. The event received the biggest citizen participation in history: 80% of Venezuelans voted at this election. After this massive date with democracy, media outlets all around the world gave their approval to electoral technology, as Venezuela proved that nationwide automated elections are possible.
“Venezuela and its society are leading the Latin American electoral processes and technology,” were the first words from Prensa Latina, a Cuban press agency, after the elections. Meanwhile, the Dominican newspaper Hoy announced that e-voting was “the key to peaceful elections in Venezuela.” The Jamaica Gleaner pointed out the difference between the Latin American secure e-voting system and that used by the US, which has proved controversial over time: “Venezuela's electronic voting system is secure, transparent, and auditable - with multiple audits, involving all political parties, being carried out at each stage in the process. Unlike the controversial 'Diebold' machines used in recent US national elections, each vote yields a tangible paper receipt for verification or recount, and there is no 'electronic back door' to permit manipulation of the tallies.”
US media outlets also had their say about Venezuela’s electoral technology. CounterPunch, an American political newsletter, declared: “Free and fair elections are only one feature of a democracy, but in Venezuela, elections have become something more—a national project which knows no party and constitutes a major investment.” The media outlet added that “CNE’s anti-hacking and multiple transparent audit and identity authentication systems have put to rest past opposition claims of fraud.”
The news traveled all the way to Asia, where voices of approbation were immediately heard. In the Philippines, The Manila Standard Today expressed admiration for the positive way the elections turned out in Venezuela.
To see that a Latin American country is teaching the world how to hold a successful automated election is truly remarkable. Venezuela certainly has given a lesson on democracy and become an example to follow. We hope it will be only a matter of time until other nations understand it and apply it as well.