Venezuela’s new voting technology impresses ECN

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is impressed by Venezuela’s new voting technology unveiled last Friday by the National Electoral Council (CNE).

The new electronic voting machines will be used in the 06 December parliamentary elections.

The presser was held via a Zoom meeting which the ECN’s chairperson, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja and Nampa were privy to.

Venezuela’s hyped new voting machines are faster, automate, safe and auditable, according to the CNE.

Its president, Indira Alfonzo, explained during the presentation that the machine ‘offers a simple system that is easy for the voter to experience,’ and that the machine also follows the necessary biosafety protocols.

“The machines guarantee one voter, one vote,” he said, with voting taking up to three minutes.

Unlike many countries including Namibia that have three arms of the State, namely, the legislature, executive and judiciary, Venezuela has a fourth, the electoral branch.

The core values are an electoral guarantee, a legal framework and a constitutional framework to ensure the autonomy of the electoral branch.

Approached for comment on her experience on Tuesday, Tjipueja described it as “a very excellent technology”.

On whether the ECN might consider introducing the same technology here, she said: “At this point, we haven’t made any decision because we did indicate that we will have a stakeholder conference during the first quarter of 2021 where we will discuss the way forward, whether we will continue with ballot papers or what the way forward is.”

Between 2014 and 2019, Namibia used electronic voting machines (EVMs) until the Supreme Court ruled their use without a voter-verifiable paper trail unconstitutional.

Namibia has since reverted back to the use of traditional ballot papers in conducting its elections.

If a new voting technology is to be introduced in Namibia, it should be driven by ECN’s stakeholders [political parties, candidates, lawmakers and electorate], Tjipueja said.

“These things will depend on our stakeholders and what their views are because they have been very critical of the EVMs,” she said, adding the new technology will come with financial implications.

Tjipueja was however unfazed by this, saying ECN is equally autonomous.

“We were established as an independent constitutional body. Previously, before 2014, we were not a constitution body. But with the amendments of the constitution, Article 94 (b), the Electoral Commission was established as an independent body,” she explained.

Features of Venezuela’s voting technology:

The new machines have a 10-hour lithium battery to safeguard against widespread power outages, internal maintenance scanners, as well as integrated sound systems and other features to assist disabled voters. They also have up-to-date security software.

As with previous models, in addition to the electronic vote, they emit a paper receipt reflecting the vote entered which is later used to audit the electronic tallies.

Source: Namibia Press Agency