Monday, February 24, 2014

E-voting excels in Ecuador

Santo Domingo used technology
provided by Smartmatic. Image: El Comercio
Ecuador ran three electronic voting pilots yesterday as voters elected 5,651 regional offices in the 2014 sectional elections. 

In order to implement these technologies, the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), Ecuador´s highest electoral office, reached agreements with electoral commissions from Venezuela, Russia and Argentina. Their experience in election automation proved key for the success of the project.

Two of the voting pilots -in Santo Domingo de los Ts├íchilas and Azuay- were binding. In La Morita, only 194 voters cast their vote in an experimental pilot using Russian technology. 

Smartmatic, a London based company, provided voting technology and services to conduct the entire process in Santo Domingo de los Ts├íchilas. This pilot ran smoothly. Only one hour after polls closed authorities had in their possession official results. For the voters, voting was trouble -free. They used touch screen voting machines which provide a physical vote receipt via a built-in printer. The company offered training, running a support center, preparing, deploying and collecting the electronic electoral kits, among other services. 

In total, in Santo Domingo, 1,221 voting machines were deployed in 53 polling centers to receive 326.932 registered voters. Among the technologies used in the pilot, this was the only 100% automated and verifiable voting experience in the pilot. 

In Azuay, the CNE of Ecuador managed the entire voting process. However, to capture the intent of the voters, they had Magic Software Argentina provide 3,022 voting machines. Some polling centers presented problems with this technology. In the Canton Ponce Enriquez , the voting had to be suspended  because the voting machines had not been properly configured. Authorities will announce today when the voting will be resumed.  

The Russian technology deployed in La Morita, Pichincha province, comprised only 4 Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. 2 were intended for voters, one for training and one was kept for contingency purposes. Only 194 voters used this technology. 

In spite of the glitches in Azuay, the pilots can be considered successful. Hopefully, after this positive experience, Ecuador will move to full implementation in the near future.