Friday, April 20, 2012

On the Road to Democracy, Manual Voting Becomes an Obstacle

After almost 50 years of military oppression, the people of Burma were finally able to choose the representatives who would fill 45 parliamentary seats. The country’s by-elections were held at the beginning of this month.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who won the Nobel Peace Price in 1991 for leading the fight for democracy in the country, and who had been under house arrest for 15 years, was finally able to see the progress of her struggle as a free person, even though she was not able to vote for logistic reasons. People all over the country celebrated this step towards reconciliation.

However, by March the irregularities were already palpable. Suu Kyi warned that these elections would not be free and fair. Voters complained of damaged voting papers and names missing from the register. International observers were invited by the government to oversee the elections, but they were not allowed inside the polling stations. Of course, most of these problems could have been avoided with the implementation of e-voting in the country. Why?

Reliability is one of the many benefits electronic voting offers, since a good and auditable system offers multiple technological resources to recognize fraudulent situations (intent to alter the results), eliminating the possibility of null votes. An auditable electoral system also offers accuracy, so there is no room for misinterpretation of votes or human error in processes like tallying and consolidation. Also, it’s auditable, meaning that your vote is stored in several instances, thus creating protections that guarantee the possibility of multiple audits.

But the road is long, and Burma still has time to learn the best ways to regain the trust that was lost during the years of the military regime.

All and all, this event shows that the hope for democracy to finally reach Burma is stronger and stronger within the hearts of people. Let’s hope that the desire for freedom is stronger than corruption, and that it can finally take over the shadows of the past.