Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Scytl fails again in Ecuador

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Last year, in 2013, Ecuador awarded Spanish-based Scytl a $7.8 million contract to automate tallying, processing and publishing results for provinces with manual voting – some 160,000 polling station reports.

In these presidential elections, the incumbent, Rafael Correa won by such a big margin (34%) that the CNE could rely on quick counts to provide partial results.

His supporters celebrated victory as soon as one hour after the polls closed. As a result, the local press completely overlooked the fact that Scytl’s data processing actually took weeks.

In the 2014 elections that have just taken place in Ecuador, the story is different. The same company, the same problem, but it is a sectional election with eleven million voters selecting thousands of candidates. Margins are narrow and quick counts and exit polls are not enough.

Since the polls on February 23, authorities have been postponing announcing the results. A few days ago, with only 75% of results processed, they asked for more time.

Osman Loraiza, a representative from Scytl, acknowledged the failure of their system in Ecuador. However, their website is still regarding their participation as a success. It remains to be seen whether the press will overlook the failure this time.  

The CNE has already announced it will sanction Scytl. Authorities will wait until this crisis is finished to decide how to proceed. 

Electoral authorities from Ecuador are now left with the herculean task of completing the counting, announcing results and convincing public opinion that those are a true expression of the popular vote.

Fortunately, it is not all bad news for the election technology industry. On election day, and only 70 minutes after polls closed, results were available in Santo Domingo de los Ts├íchilas. The e-voting technology deployed by Smartmatic yielded excellent results. Also, in Azuay, were the CNE automated the counting of votes using Magic Software Argentina (MSA) technology, results were also published that same night.