Election Universe

The case for election technology

The case for election technology
August 11 2015, 13:06

Antonio Mugica, CEO and founder of Smartmatic, recently published an article titled “The Case for election Technology” in the European View journal.

According to Mugica, despite the ubiquity of technology in our everyday lives, many countries have yet to embrace its benefits for strengthening their democratic processes. He writes: “One area where developments in technology have been especially slow is in the process of enabling democracy. Enormous opportunities in this area remain unrealised: citizen engagement, real-time participation, communication between government and constituents, and elections.”

The industry of election technology is still at an early stage of development. The reason for that being that “many people perceive the election process to be straightforward and take for granted that it works. For this reason, very little attention is given to election administration. But as one of the founders of Smartmatic, the largest voting technology company in the world, I can say that the election process is much more complex than most people realise. I am deeply concerned about the election process and consider the convergence of technology and politics a matter of great importance.”

How can the benefits of running an automated election be summarised? Mugica explains that “There are nine areas in which automation results in significant improvements over traditional manual voting and counting systems: security, accuracy, speed, privacy, auditability, accessibility and turnout, integrity, cost reduction and sustainability.” Each one of these benefits is analyzed in detail in the article.

Referring to the future of electronic voting, Mugica is rather optimistic. “Currently more than 70 countries are between Stages 1 and 8 of the Election Automation Maturity Curve, up from less than 30 a mere 5 years ago.” These levels refer to the Election Maturity Model created by Smartmatic which groups election technology into four major levels and 8 subdivisions which cover tools to monitor the progress of an election, and all the way to electronic voting and biometric authentication of voters.

The article debunks some of the myths that persist around electronic voting. To do so, Mugica points at the contradiction he finds in the arguments made by those opposing election automation: “Current opposition to the use of election technology is predominantly defended along two lines. The first is that an election is so straightforward that it does not need technology. How difficult can it be to count papers and declare a winner? The second is the inverse of the first (and thus an obvious contradiction): an election is such a complex and difficult process that no computer system is secure enough or robust enough to handle it.”

We invite you to read the entire article by clicking here.

Image vía The Guardian