History shows us once and again that despite geographical, generational or socio-cultural contexts, some political players – as well as some partisan groups- have a vested interest in ensuring elections results end in their favor.
Unfortunately, it is part of the dynamics of democracy. And it often translates into potential risks for election manipulation or voter fraud.
This situation is a real problem for Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to tackle and deal with. So how do we ensure that the final election results represent the actual voice and intent of the people?
The election technology industry is one of the fundamental players working to solve this very issue. As confidence for political administrations and democratic institutions declines globally, election stakeholders need to find new opportunities to regain voters’ trust, fight old-and-new forms of election fraud, while helping EMBs conduct more transparent and reliable elections.
Detect and deter fraud
Election experts agree that to minimize fraud attempts, EMBs must improve and strengthen standard operating procedures in elections (including the adoption of election technology when appropriate and approved); increase transparency through auditing, monitoring, and in-depth election observation; and enforce the legal framework as a deterrent to fraud.
Electronic voting systems can offer auditable solutions to ensure that all votes are cast as intended and counted as cast.
The auditing processes across the voting cycle and throughout all technology services (including recording statistics in management tools, and post-election forensics of every aspect of the election,) guarantees respect for voters’ rights and reliability of the results.
The redundancy and traceability of the ballots chain of custody -when accurately documented and supervised- allows prompt discovery of any tampering or manipulation attempt. This, in turn, allows for more accountability.
Some countries have already established election technology to help reduce voter fraud. For example, electronic voting can reduce and alleviate violence and intimidation when election waiting-times drop.
In the Philippines, before the automation of elections, manual counting could take several weeks. The longer the waiting period to get official results took, the stronger violence and threats from guerrilla groups got. The adoption of electronic voting ensured counting and transmission of results during Election Day, which profoundly discouraged post-election violence and intimidation.
Additionally, the adoption of technology in an election can help:
- Detect on time, eliminate and restore most given technical failures.
- Discretionary access to the electoral processes.
- Avoid inaccuracies or human errors
- Plan, share and manage accountable contingency plans.
- Accomplish a more balanced and fair distribution of voters and polling workers
- Enfranchise and manage marginalized groups such as voters with disabilities, from ethnic minorities, living abroad or in remote areas.
Finally, critics argue that bringing election technology to the polls could create new forms of manipulation. Valid point. But the bottom line should always be election integrity. An auditable e-voting system should help EMBs preventing, deterring, mitigating, and prosecuting not only traditional election fraud methods (mostly with manual voting), but modern digital manipulations (i.e., cyber threats) too.