Piloting Electronic Voting in Peru
In 2010 the Peruvian Congress called on its electoral institutions to explore electronic voting following delayed election results during regional and municipal elections earlier that year. As part of the exploration process, Peru’s National Office of Electoral Processes (La Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales, ONPE) was charged with conducting a pilot of electronic voting technology. Because the ONPE had no previous experience with electronic voting, the International Republican Institute (IRI), with support from USAID, provided technical assistance to the ONPE in planning, conducting and evaluating the pilot.
The ONPE ran the e-voting pilot in the mountain town of Pacarán, chosen for its small size and rural location. While the location and demographics of Pacarán would challenge the introduction of e-voting machines, issues unique to remote communities had to be tested to ensure the technology would meet the needs of Peru’s entire citizenry.
The pilot began with IRI working with the ONPE to conduct a baseline study to determine the most effective voter education and training tools. The results of the study helped to clarify the appropriate voting hardware and software for Pacarán. After determining the technical aspects of the pilot, the ONPE designed a plan for poll worker and voter outreach. The outreach plan provided technical training to poll workers and reached 86 percent of the 1,354 registered voters through a variety of e-voting technical training events, including community fairs, door-to-door outreach and scheduled informative workshops. On Election Day, voters also had the opportunity to practice on e-voting simulators prior to casting their ballots.
After the pilot, ONPE and IRI developed detailed recommendations, results and conclusions from the pilot. The main conclusion was that, although the many technical and logistical obstacles to implementing a national electronic voting system might be overcome, implementing such a system would be very costly. Since the pilot evaluation, the Peruvian Congress has not demonstrated serious interest in allocating any significant level of funding for electronic voting. However, since the first pilot in 2011, ONPE has been asked by Congress to conduct additional small-scale pilots for local elections, most recently during July 2013 municipal elections.