Friday, May 23, 2014

Europe joins the new wave of election automation

Image: Gozo News
2014 is proving to be an interesting year for modern democracies as more nations -seeking to provide greater transparency and efficiency to their elections- take firm steps to modernize their electoral systems.

Earlier this year, Ecuador implemented an electronic voting pilot during its recent elections. India began attaching printers to their machines to make voting in their machines more transparent. Costa Rica, Panama, Pakistan and Slovakia also made important progress to ensure inclusion and build electoral confidence via election automation.

In Europe, despite some setbacks during the last decade in Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany, the scenario has changed radically and electoral automation is regaining strength.

The European Union Parliamentary elections to being held this weekend will be an excellent opportunity for nations to continue to developing e-voting platforms already in place, or to show its advantages over the outdated and unreliable manual systems in electronic voting pilots.

Estonia is leading the way with an I-voting system that has already yielded excellent results in six national elections. I-voting is optional, as voters can head to poll stations and use the traditional paper and pencil. Since its inception in 2005, casting a ballot online has been gaining popularity in Estonia.

Meanwhile, in Belgium, three elections will take place at the same time: Federal, Regional and European parliamentary authorities are to be chosen. Smartmatic technology (including more than 17,400 voting machines) will be used in polling stations across 153 communes in the Flanders (308 municipalities) and Brussels (19 municipalities) regions. Over 1,000 polling stations in Brussels and Wallonia will be using technology by Jites and Digivote. 

There’s also Switzerland, with its system of electronic voting, known as vote électronique, which allows the electorate to participate in elections and referendums on the Internet without having to go to a polling station.

Bulgaria will have the opportunity to test the benefits of a verifiable voting system.

In Bulgaria, the National Electoral Commission of this country has decided to implement a fully automated system: Citizens of Sofia and three other Bulgarian cities will have the option to use the voting technology platform, which includes touchscreen voting machines, software applications and related services.