Is there a solution to make voting in the plebiscite on the new Constitution on October 25 safer? Unfortunately it seems there isn’t. Once again, we are late as a country to the proposals associated with modernization challenges, in this case that of the right to vote.
We have been talking about e-voting, remotely or by mail for years. Today before the urgency of an election, the issue rises again, but again in a reactive way. Two months before the plebiscite, little to nothing can be done. However, in view of the many elections in 2021, it is appropriate to evaluate some of the currently viable alternatives that have been implemented in other countries.
Let’s start by clarifying that electronic voting does not solve the issue because it still requires going to the polling place; the paper is just replaced by a computer terminal. Remote voting through mobile devices is a very good idea in theory, but it is still a system that has proven to be too vulnerable.
This being the case, what other options could be implemented during the upcoming electoral calendar? There is early voting (as is customary in Canada, the US, Finland and Australia), where each citizen can vote in advance in specific places. Another alternative is voting by mail: Argentina, Mexico, Spain, the US and Italy already do that.
And finally there is the option of mobile voting centers, where an official goes to certain houses or institutions on a specific day, so that citizens who for different reasons cannot participate on the day of the election, vote before, secretly and safely. Australia, Canada, Finland and Ecuador have already implemented this system, which seems like a measure that could fit quite well with the pandemic situation that affects us today.
Faced with the current health crisis that we face our senior citizens face the greatest risk when going to vote. Paradoxically, they also always have been the ones who fulfilled this civic duty most responsibly.
While options are available, the will and time to implement them do not seem to exist. It is to be hoped that our authorities will weigh and analyze, in depth and democratically, the current alternatives to fulfill our responsibility, avoiding – as far as possible – a greater absenteeism in the next electoral processes and even weaker citizen participation.
Felipe Vergara (@felipevergaram) is a communications expert and has a regular column at Emol news portal. Apart from discussing current events on his radio show, he also teaches at Universidad Andrés Bello.