Thursday, April 11, 2013

Venezuela organizes presidential election in record time

Caracas. Photo: Marcio Cabral de Moura

Venezuela is getting ready to carry out new presidential elections only six months after the reelection of Hugo Chavez. The country was forced to call its citizens to the polling stations once more after the early demise of the nation’s president last March 5th.

Having less than 40 days to organize the electoral event, Venezuela has opted to make use of the advantages that its automated voting system provides. In order to speed up the preparation processes facing this challenge, the National Electoral Council (CNE) decided to use the same electoral registry from the October 2012 election for the voting machines that will be used during this new event.

On April 14th, 39,282 voting machines will be deployed. These are equipped with a touchscreen for candidate selection, they print out a voting receipt showing the cast ballot (facilitating citizen auditing), an e-ballot and a biometric device for voter authentication, which guarantees the “one voter, one vote” premise.

The device matches each voter’s fingerprint along with their ID number and compares these data with those from its database. If they match, the voting session is activated. This system not only prevents the occurrence of deceased voters and identity theft, but it also guarantees that each voter casts his or her ballot only once. It is worth mentioning that the biometric information is stored separately from the voting information, which guarantees the right to vote secrecy.

Venezuela’s electoral system has been celebrated for its speed and reliability. According to Jimmy Carter, member of the American Commission for the Federal Electoral Reform and founder of the Carter Center, an NGO that carries out observation processes with democratic purposes, “Venezuela has the best electoral system in the world.”