This year’s International Day of Democracy awareness theme focuses on the challenges and resolutions that our governments and societies face to increase participation and human rights’ protection in modern times.
“Democracy under Strain: Solutions for a Changing World,” is the frame that the UN proposes to assess the state of democracy. We take the opportunity to do it from the election technology perspective.
Voting technology –in the form of e-democracy platforms, electronic voting machines, biometric registration, online voting, or digital election management systems– can help reach critical democracy milestones. Here we share five examples.
- “Better inclusion.” The adoption of technology solutions across the election cycle supports Election Management Bodies (EMBs) in encouraging participation of marginalized groups into the political system. For instance, election technology can aid to boost youth participation; ease voting registration among disenfranchised voters; expand voting information and campaigns outreach, and make the election process more accessible for people with disabilities.
- “Extra innovation.” Democracy is fighting stagnation as well as defending its values from current threats to fundamental freedoms, hence holding periodic and genuine elections is not enough. Technology lets election administrators prevent errors and tackle their most urging matters. It contributes to making the voting process more secure, reliable, convenient, attractive, up-to-date, faster, and simpler to take part in. Ground-breaking voting alternatives and procedures empower and give peace of mind to EMBs, voters, political parties, observers, and the media.
- “Greater equality.” Better democratic performance should directly translate into a drop of a country’s inequality indicators, both economic and political. But how can voting technology support more equality? Supporting platforms to encourage a better gender-balanced political participation and public policies; making registration and voting easier and more convenient for the youth, members of an ethnic or racial minority, migrants, illiterate citizens; and offering secure and reliable remote voting for voters abroad, with reduced mobility or living in distant zones.
- “More responsive.” Citizens are expecting their leaders and policymakers to excel in being responsive and accountable for emerging challenges. Elections are only one pillar of the political system, but they are a fundamental one. They are directly related to administration efficiency, social development, and rights protection. In a century of social media immediacy and viral information, adopting and customizing technology solutions to work side by side with EMBs has become necessary. It is no longer a choice -but a goal- to offer voters inventive, intuitive, robust, auditable, and digital ways to express political and social opinions (before, during and after casting their ballots.)
- “Committed to respect human rights further.” Technology enables to raise awareness, identify and highlight the human rights principles that strengthen Freedom of expression, conscience, assembly, movement; gender equality; political participation; universal suffrage; and the will of the people as the basis of government authority. Auditable voting technology solutions, when properly implemented, help guarantee all stakeholders that their fundamental rights will be respected.