Nowadays technology is used throughout the voting process.
Among the 185 democratic countries in the world, more than 40 have adopted electoral automation technology, and nearly 50 countries and regions have put electoral automation on the agenda. It is not difficult to judge that the number of countries adopting electoral automation technology will continue to grow in the next few years. In addition, with the continuous growth of the electorate base in various countries, the demand for electoral technology continues to rise, The automation technology of direct voting in the world can be roughly divided into “paper automation technology” and “paperless automation technology”. Paper technology is based on traditional paper ballot, supplemented by optical identification technology, which provides efficient, accurate and safe means of counting votes. At present, it is applied in 15 countries in East Asia, Central Asia, Middle East and other regions. Paperless technology replaces paper ballot with electronic ballot, Through touch screen, computer, Internet and other means to achieve automatic voting, mostly used in Europe and Latin America. From the perspective of application prospect, paperless technology has greater market potential, but papery technology has solid application soil in some areas, which can not be subverted in the short term. Therefore, an idea of “inclusive, integrated and innovative” to provide the most suitable technology for local needs is the only way on the development road of election automation.
There are also ballot marking devices which provide an electronic interface for voters with disabilities to mark a paper ballot. And, a few small jurisdictions hand count paper ballots.
More on each of these options is below:
Scanning devices that tabulate paper ballots. Ballots are marked by the voter, and may either be scanned on precinct-based optical scan systems in the polling place (“precinct counting optical scan machine -PCOS”) or collected in a ballot box to be scanned at a central location (“central counting optical scan machine -CCOS”). Most older optical scan systems use infrared scanning technology and ballots with timing marks on the edges in order to accurately scan a paper ballot. Newer systems may use “digital scan” technology, whereby a digital image of each ballot is taken during the scanning process. Some vendors may use commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) scanners along with software to tabulate ballots, while others use proprietary hardware. PCOS machine works in an environment where the ballot counting is completed at each polling station, which is suitable for most precincts in the Philippines. PCOS can complete counting of votes and ensure integrity of the election process at the same time. Marked ballot papers will be collected in a designated place for centralized counting, and the results will be sorted out more quickly by batch counting. It can achieve high-speed statistics of election results, and is applicable to the precincts where the automation machines facing difficulties to be deployed and communication network is either limited, restricted or non existent.
A voting machine that is designed to allow a direct vote on the machine by the manual touch of a screen, monitor, wheel, or other device. A EVM records the individual votes and vote totals directly into computer memory and does not use a paper ballot. Some EVMs come with a Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), a permanent paper record showing all votes cast by the elector. Voters who use EVM voting machines with paper trails have the opportunity to review a paper record of their vote before casting it. Voter-marked paper ballots and VVPATs are used as the vote of record for counts, audits and recounts.
A device that permits voters to mark a paper ballot. A voter’s choices are usually presented on a screen in a similar manner to a EVM, or perhaps on a tablet. However, a BMD does not record the voter’s choices into its memory. Instead, it allows the voter to mark the choices on-screen and, when the voter is done, prints the ballot selections. The resulting printed paper ballot is then either hand counted or counted using an optical scan machine. BMDs are useful for people with disabilities, but can be used by any voter. Some systems produced print-outs with bar codes or QR codes instead of a traditional paper ballot. Security experts have pointed out that there are risks associated with these types of systems since the bar code itself is not human readable.