Monday, July 1, 2013

Sri Lanka waits for electoral automation

Photo: S Baker

The advantages of e-voting do not go unnoticed by neighbors of countries that have successfully automated their electoral system. One example of this is Sri Lanka, which has been aware of the advantages brought by the implementation of voting technology in India, and now expects to adopt electronic voting as well.

India is one of the leading countries in the use of electoral technology. For almost two decades, it has been showing the world that a country with more than a billion people, and with extreme conditions for its electorate, can carry out elections with utmost reliability and speed. Moreover, the nation is planning to add printed vote receipts to enhance the auditability of its democratic processes. The use of electoral technology has proven to foster citizen participation in younger crowds, as they are coming up with new ways to incorporate it into their lives.

With the adoption of electoral technology, India set an example that was quickly followed by other countries, such as Nepal. Since the positive experience with e-voting is spreading throughout Asia, Therefore, it is not surprising at all that India’s neighbor, Sri Lanka, is now conducting campaigns advocating for the incorporation of e-voting into its electoral system. Since 2010, the Water Supply and Drainage Minister of the country, Dinesh Gunawardene, has been announcing that the government is taking steps toward the automation of the electoral system. He states that the central government acknowledges how easy it is to vote using machines and how e-voting “eradicates corruption and reduces delays in releasing results.” The cost-effectiveness of electoral automation has also been highlighted. However, implementation has taken longer than estimated, and the people are growing restless.

There are already groups on Facebook and Twitter accounts championing vote automation for Sri Lanka. The country is now just waiting for voting machines to be borrowed from India to conduct a demonstration and make the final decision, as it cannot subsist anymore on the unbearably long ballot papers that have been produced in recent elections. 

Sri Lankans are more than prepared to adopt e-voting now because they have been witness to its benefits for years. The country already has the political will and the enthusiasm of the citizenry to back automation, so the only thing missing is for the nation to take the final step. This way, Sri Lanka will enter the elite of countries where democracy is easier and more reliable, and where the will of the people is entirely reflected on their electoral results. We are hoping that that final leap is made very soon.