Election Universe

Voting technology in South America

October 16 2013, 18:00

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


The evolution of information technology in recent decades has brought the adoption of electronic voting to the agendas of electoral commissions and governments around the world. South America is no exception.

To begin any discussion on voting technology, the first references are Brazil and Venezuela , two countries leading automation in a global scale. Since the 1980s Brazil has been ahead of the curve. They began using Direct-Recording Electronic voting machines (DRE) to capture the intent of voters, and transitioned smoothly o nationwide coverage automation. Nowadays, they are gradually implementing voter authentication using biometric devices. In a few years they expect to have every voter authenticated before casting a vote to suppress identity related fraud.

Venezuela is another frontrunner in the adoption of voting technology. After a first baby step in 1998 using optical scanners to automate counting, in 2004 it jumped to automate suffrage in its entirety, from voting to result publication. Venezuelan was the first nation in the world to use a printed voting voucher to allow result verification. In 2012 Venezuela became the first country ever to use biometrics to authenticate all the voters in a national election.

Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, are all making considerable efforts to bring technologies to different stages of their electoral processes. For example, in the coming months, all these nations will be conducting pilots, tests, tender processes, or even conducting partial elections with automated voting.

Bolivia, a nation that is finally achieving reasonable levels of political stability after a conflictive start of the century, made a great effort to conduct more reliable and transparent elections in 2009. By using biometrics, they brought best practices to this very first and important part of any elections, the electoral roll.

For a long time Chile, a very traditional and conservative society, had found solace in the alleged simplicity of manual voting. However, last year a modification of their electoral legal framework made voting not compulsory, and registration of citizens 18 and over automatic. With an electoral commission obliged to prepare a voting platform for a wider audience, Chile now confronts the challenge of bringing down the per cost voter. Voting automation is suddenly looking attractive to them.

Although Paraguay and Uruguay could be considered a step behind all other nations in the continent, their political environment, and the ever present pressure created by shrinking budgets and the global outcry for more government accountability will most likely combine to push officials to seek the best possible use of the limited resources available. Soon, these countries will begin tdoptiong voting technology.