On 24th November the opposition-controlled Argentine Senate blocked a vote on electoral reform that included the implementation of a new electronic voting system as proposed by President Mauricio Macri. The government-sponsored bill had already been approved by the lower house of Congress in October, but the delay in the Senate means it will not be sanctioned before the end of the legislative year, and therefore not applicable for the mid-term elections in October 2017. However, the government says it will continue to push for the reform, and the debate over the electronic voting system – known as the Single Electronic Ballot (BUE, in Spanish) – continues in Argentina, where it has already been deployed in the province of Salta and the city of Buenos Aires. Various forms of electronic voting are also currently present in countries such as Brazil, Canada, Estonia, India, the USA, and Switzerland, while other states such as Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands have abandoned it after a short period of use.
The argument for implementing it is that it will get rid of many problems with the current system, including instances of electoral fraud, and allow the votes to be counted faster. However, many experts are against it as they believe it creates more problems than it fixes and could even reduce the transparency of the vote. At a more fundamental level, critics also say that it takes the vote out of the citizens’ hands and places it firmly in the control of the government and the company developing the relevant software and hardware.
… Germany began trialling electronic voting in 1998 and it was increasingly used until a legal claim in 2005 led to the process being abandoned a few years later. The underlying judgement was that the use of the electronic machines did not allow the vote to be carried out in a transparent way and the that special precautions were necessary to prevent the wide-reaching effect of possible errors or deliberate electoral fraud to safeguard the principle of the public nature of elections. However, the outcome did not rule out the use of voting machines, as long as the machines meet the transparency requirements and that the votes are recorded in another way besides electronic storage.
… Beatriz Busaniche, the President of Fundación Vía Libre, is completely against the proposed changes, telling The Indy that “this technology is not appropriate for any democracy.” Busaniche highlights that the Argentine constitution establishes the principles which should be respected in an electoral system in a democracy. These are: the secrecy of the ballot, the integrity of the vote and the possibility of all citizens to audit the election and participate with full knowledge and understanding of the process.