Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Argentina eyes election automation for 2017

The Argentine government is looking to overhaul the country's electoral system ahead of the 2017 elections.

Topping the proposed electoral reform agenda is poll automation, which many Argentines believe has become an imperative after manual voting failed in 2015. The proposed reforms, which have yet to reach Congress, also includes a wide array of issues such as campaign financing and a revamp of election calendars. 

This move by Mauricio Macri's government is seen by observers as an encouraging response to the problems encountered during the first round of the 2015 presidential elections when the manual system collapsed. The issues with the paper-based system were so widespread and serious that a comprehensive reform became a campaign platform for Macri. 

The lack of an efficient system to process votes has long beset Argentina leading provinces such as Salta and Cordoba to adopt their own technology solutions.

In 2015, the Province of Buenos Aires used a sort of ballot printing and scanning technology that had been used in Salta since 2009. Although the technology helped count the votes, many technology experts were wary of the system's security features.

An article published in La Nacion-a leading Argentine outlet-, provides detailed information on the different problems found in this particular system. Although authorities have downplayed the effects of the incidents, the technology continued to be under the scrutiny of IT experts.

During the recent ekoparty Security Conference, the system used in Salta also came under heavy fire from IT practitioners  Barrera Oro and Javier Smaldone who worried about the system's lack of transparency and insufficient security. 

According to the Buenos Aires Herald, the system that is being proposed in the draft bill resembles the system in question, which has led some stakeholders to call for more consultation.

The reform proposal faces months of intense debates in the Congress before it can be passed into a law. The proponents would also need to work closely with the academe and election technology experts to craft a solution tailored to the country's complex requirements. Yet many are optimistic that the proposal is a step in the right direction in achieving the country's long-time goal of having credible elections.