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Communications of the ACM

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Electronic Voting Systems

Drummond Ltd. Systems engineer Carlos A. Brewer R.

Voting systems has been tied to computers even before the electronic age, electronic voting systems date back the 60’s with the use of punched cards to store and process information originated from elections and other process were massive data is collected.
Brazil, India, Venezuela and USA are countries with electronic voting systems working for their citizens, each one uses a set of different strategies to collect and process the information gathered at the voting location, each strategy has its own advantages and dis-advantages given on how the information is collected, processed and validated.
No matter how data is processed, the most important aspect of these systems is data validity, this means that all data has to be correct and fraud-free (like e-banking), traditional voting systems are affected by fraud and human errors that can be at least be minimized with the use of electronic systems.

Two weeks ago Colombians had the opportunity to choose their next congress in an election process that has been polemic and with many fraud situations in different areas of the country; fraud situations varies from differences in one counting form with the previous one, overwriting of vote counts, marks and a whole set of manual alterations of election forms.

Also the citizen faced a complex voting schema with an impressive number of candidates and several cards with different candidates for a whole set of different public corporations, this caused many blank and invalid votes due to the confusion that this complex process created (especially in poor regions with people with low educational level) and it opened a door where fraud can be made.

And there were problems with data transmission, the web site of the public corporation in charge of the election process went down for a while and access to the site showed delays and many errors with non-updated data.

This is just an example of what problem affects traditional voting systems, most of these problems can be avoided by using an electronic system, instead of the traditional paper voting system that is actually used in Colombia and other countries, among the solutions provided by electronics is the simplification of the whole process, a simplification in the candidate selection formats, better aids for users with disabilities and non-educated ones also a reduction of fraud possibilities and a reduction in human errors, among the social implications are a reduced reporting time of the results however people will feel a sensation of security, also candidates will see how their votes are properly counted, third age and voters with disabilities will feel more comfort and freedom.

However an appropriate reporting interface of consolidated results must be effective and secure enough to guarantee access to all information related to the election process, there is no success if the results of the election are not properly reported.
Implementation of electronic voting systems must be accelerated in order to improve the whole voting system, many countries already approved the use of such systems but several reasons impede this, the most important one is the bureaucracy issue which is a big one.

With political will and a good traninig stage for users, electronic voting can help, improve and solve most of the problems that the election process has.


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