Election Universe

Philippines, Estonia, Brazil, India: Digital Democracy trailblazers

Philippines, Estonia, Brazil, India: Digital Democracy trailblazers
December 01 2016, 12:52

Richard Soudriette, founder and former president of International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), labeled Philippines, Estonia, Brazil, India and Estonia as pioneers for their pioneering efforts in implementing electoral technology.

In his essay, which is part of the Future of Elections report, he noted that Brazil adopted nationwide electronic voting as early as 2000 and had been largely succeeded in its efforts to modernize the country’s elections.

“Factors contributing to success included an excellent voter education program, on-going outreach to election stakeholders and a robust independent voting systems testing program,” Soudriette said.

Soudriette also noted how the Philippines has successfully used an Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) system in 2010, 2013 and 2016. “This OMR system enjoys great credibility thanks to strong voter education, effective poll worker training and vigorous election stakeholder engagement,” he said.

“Independent testing of the hardware and source codes is also a key to wide acceptance from all contenders, and hence from the public as well,” Soudriette continued.

The 2016 Philippine elections have been hailed internationally for its speed, transparency, and credibility.

Soudriette likewise commended India’s homegrown electronic voting system which has been in use since 2004. “The Indian electronic voting machine (EVM) enjoys great credibility due to superb voter education, competent logistics planning and robust stakeholder outreach,” he said.

Soudriette then noted how as much as 1/3 of Estonians chose to vote online in their 2015 elections, attributing such to a higly effective voter education campaign and stakeholder buy-in.

Estonia has implemented Internet Voting for all parliamentary elections since 2007 and was the first country to offer internet voting as an option in all elections.

Soudriette has called on election officials to consider new tools like internet-voting to “fully engage younger voters in democracy.”

“All possible tools must be used to increase voter participation and safeguard the integrity of the vote. It is time democracies invest for the future and bring elections into the 21st century so that every vote counts,” he said.

Richard Soudriette, who Chairs de IEAC, also serves as an international advisor to AWEB and the Association of European Election Officials (ACEEEO). From 1988 to 2007 he was the founding president of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Washington, D.C. Under his leadership, IFES became one of the premier providers of international democracy assistance.