Testing, testing, testing; the Buenos Aires pilot project

Fellow international election observers Sean Greene and Dan Seligson of electionline.org (here shown in a lighter moment in Buenos Aires’ Cafe Tortoni) have written a comprehensive overview of the Buenos Aires e-voting pilot project in this week’s electionline.org newsletter, “Voting Machine Prototypes Put To Test in Argentina.”

If you are interested in reading more about this interesting pilot test, please read Sean and Dan’s piece. They have done a through job of covering this pilot project.

I’m now in the midst myself of compiling a report based on my qualitative analysis of the project, and am struggling with trying to organize the hundreds of photos that I took during the pilot test. I hope to distribute my report soon, and will of course let readers of Election Updates know when it is available.

Here is a picture, if you are interested, showing what the Buenos Aires e-voting pilot project looked like on election day, in one of the school voting sites. Voters checked in at the table on the left, moved forward to learn about the voting system they were using (booths number 1-4), then proceeded to the second row of booths (far right side of the picture) to cast their mock vote in this particular location. See the two guys in suits, in the upper left of the photo? The one on the left (dark hair, partly behind the head poll site judge in this e-voting pilot site) is Sean Greene, on his left is Dan Seligson. Here is a close-up of a woman undergoing voter education. Last, here is a shot of a man with his son in this same pilot location using one of the electronic voting machines. Many more photos coming to this location soon!

But one editorial comment here is in order. As Thad and I have been arguing for some time, we think it is imperative that election officials engage in a thoughtful and rational process of voting system development and testing. This is just not something that we generally in the United States have done a good job doing, and we are increasingly seeing example of other nations (for example, the United Kingdom and Switzerland) developing widespread research and testing programs before their adoption of new election administration procedures and voting technologies. Argentina, through the Buenos Aires pilot project, is joining that elite club of countries or localities throughout the world who are trying to use a research-based approach for improving their election process. We hope that election officials, researchers, and advocates in the United States learn from the research that our colleagues abroad are providing, especially how to use a research-based approach for improving elections.