Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2012: An electoral year in retrospective

Image: Freedigitalphotos

2012 was an exciting year for electronic voting and for democracy in general. Many countries around the world gathered their citizens around the polling stations, some of them using the advantages of electoral technology. Let’s take a look at some of the electoral highlights of the year:

March: Putin gets reelected in Russia
Amid accusations of fraud, Vladimir Putin was reelected Prime Minister of the Russian Federation with 60% of the votes. The NGO Golos, defender of transparency during elections, denounced more than 3,500 irregularities committed during the electoral event. The ruling party’s initiative to install more than 200,000 webcams at polling stations to gain credibility backfired because these actually registered several acts of bribery, ballot stuffing, carousel fraud, and misuse of voting coupons.

April: Burma moves forward on the road to democracy
Burma held parliamentary elections for the first time after 50 years of military oppression. Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who headed the fight for democracy in the country, warned about the setbacks that would emerge during the electoral event, such as damaged ballot cards and names missing from the register. These obstacles are typical of elections held with manual voting methods.

June: Mongolia debut a new voting system for Parliamentary elections
Mongolians went to the polls to select seventy six parliament seats using a new voting system: 2,446 Precinct-Count Optical Scanners (PCOS) were used across 1,905 precincts. In spite the benefits brought forth by automation, problems with the deployment and implementation of the voting technology, raised controversies regarding the validity of the result.

July: Elections in Mexico carried out with questionable electoral technology
Mexico was ready to take the leap from manual to automated voting last year, but leaving the automation process to an incompetent company was a huge mistake that threatened to leave the Latin American country completely devoid of the opportunity to modernize its electoral platform.

October: Brazil and Venezuela demonstrate the power of e-voting
Media outlets all around the world commended Venezuela for its use of electoral technology during their last presidential elections. Meanwhile, Brazil took the challenge of leading more than 140 million voters to the polling places to assign more than 5,500 posts through e-voting, and the challenge was swiftly overcome. These two countries offered proof that vote automation is crucial to carry out multiple elections at the same time with fast and reliable results.

November: USA reelects Obama
Americans attended the polling stations to reelect their incumbent president. Amid the confusing use of different voting methods between constituencies (encompassing both manual and electronic voting), and an audit system that is not exempt from failure, people elected Barack Obama for a second term. 

December: Ghana elects its President amid technical snags
Ghana embraced the modernization of its elections by implementing biometric authentication at the polling centers, but technical glitches led to long delays in some areas. In a tight race, incumbent president John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress defeated its rival Nana Akufo-Addo.

In 2013 we will be watching as nations around the world walk into the modernization of their elections and the improvement of their democracies.