Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Audits guaranteed transparency in Venezuelan elections

Diplomatic body accredited in Venezuela audited voting machines
(Photo AVN)
We’ve emphasized many times how important it is for elections processes carried out with e-voting to be audited in order to offer maximum reliability to both governmental institutions and citizens. Venezuela is a great example to follow in this matter, as this year it celebrated its presidential elections for the 2013-2019 period, and the voting platform used was subjected to multiple audits both before and after the electoral exercise.

According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), the highest electoral authority in the country, audits were performed on the following aspects of the election: voting machine manufacturing, e-voting software, machine pre-delivery check, infrastructure, biometric authentication system (SIA), production of the biometric authentication system, data transmission network, vote tallying, election closure, voting minutes, post-election phase, printed registries, and indelible ink. These inspections guaranteed the transparency of the election where incumbent President Hugo Chávez was reelected with 54% of the votes.

Pre-election audits were conducted from August 13th to October 6th, one day before the big event. The audits were performed by CNE representatives and delegates from the political parties. Some sectors were concerned about whether the voting machines would guarantee vote secrecy, but electoral technology is one step ahead, and audits proved that there was nothing to fear. The random reallocation of votes is the mechanism the machines use to maintain this crucial part of suffrage, and the auditors put it to the test exhaustively. Another noteworthy ingredient to add to the advantages of e-voting regarding its auditability is the fact that the voting machines print vote receipts on paper, which are used to confirm the results obtained electronically. Vote receipts also served as tools for citizens to become auditors as well. Post-election audits were carried out on October 8th, 15th and 16th.

Jimmy Carter, former US president and founder of the Carter Center, remarked that there is no electoral system in the world with as many audits as Venezuela. According to Carter, Venezuela’s electoral system is the world’s safest and most transparent, as its high-security mechanisms block any outside attempts of manipulation and citizens can verify through the vote receipts that their selection was stored in the machine.

The multiple guarantees regarding auditability that e-voting offers are, among other benefits, the reasons why it should be the cardinal method to carry out an election. The South American nation is a role model of democracy adopting technology.