The National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) presented to the Ministry of Interior a critical report on the Unique Electronic Ballot (Boleta Única Electrónica)
The report is not only controversial because the government considers it to be the most viable alternative for electoral processes – in fact it intended to implement it in some districts in this year’s midterms, but the initiative proved unfruitful after Cambiemos failed to sanction an electoral reform law that would – but also because Página 12 reported that on November 9, the Institute for the Investigation of Communication Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires published a tweet that indicated the existence of the report critical of the new electronic voting system.
Officials from the Ministry of the Interior denied soliciting the report. According to officials who spoke to La Nación, “we did not ask for a report, nor are we saying that we won’t publish it.”
Speculations about the content of the report were disseminated via social media. The topic “Liberen el informe del Conicet [Release (or free) the Conicet report]” trended on Twitter yesterday. “It would be very bad to start the meeting of Open Government by keeping the CONICET report about electronic voting secret,” said Delia Ferrerira, the Chair of Transparency International.
— Delia Ferreira (@DeliaFerreira) November 13, 2017
However, the report was indeed published and picked up by media outlets on November 18. Although most of them informed that the Ministry had requested it, the department led by Rogelio Frigerio denied it. And as it had been anticipated, the report advised the government to not implement the system. “It is recommended to not move forward, in the short or medium term, with the implementation of an electronic system at the vote casting stage of the electoral process,” reads the report’s conclusion.
The analysis goes on to indicate that “there are theoretical results showing the impossibility to simultaneously satisfy three of the attributes the system requires (secret, the possibility to audit it and integrity.”
Fundación Vía Libre, an Argentine NGO, had asked the government to release the report to the public under law 27275, a provision that provides for the release of government information. “The result is negative for the government, it is not what they were hoping to receive,” said Beatriz Busaniche, the President of Fundación Vía Libre.
Last month, President Macri said that he hoped to discuss the new voting system during his meeting with the provincial governors. “It is one of the topics that we will propose tot he governors, politics needs to be more simple,” said Macri. The president described the current system of voting as “archaic and frightening.” It is unknown whether the governors spoke about the topic today.
“We are not in favor of an electronic voting system because it does not assure the secrecy of the vote, and it could meant that votes could be read or taken to one authority,” said Pablo Secchi, the Executive Director of Poder Ciudadano. Secchi added that it is “very difficult to control the software.”
However, government representatives continue to be firm on their intention of changing the current voting system, and haven’t given any hints of considering going back on their initiative, or implementing another system that experts deem more trustworthy.
Numerous organizations (Poder Ciudadano, la Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), la Asociación Civil por los Derechos Civiles, Ageia Densi, Carrera de Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad de Buenos Aires, CEPPAS, Directorio Legislativo, Fundación Vía Libre and Salta Transparente) and election experts sent a letter to President Macri urging him not to continue with the plan to use electronic ballots.