BiH Central Election Commission (BiH CEC) presented on Wednesday in Sarajevo the publication named “New Technologies in the Election Process – Challenges and Possibilities for Implementation in BiH”, which aims at contributing to a public debate on the overwhelming need for modernization and digitization of the electoral process in BiH.
The publication is issued by the BiH CEC with the financial support of the Council of Europe. It is an extensive document that on more than 200 pages, divided into three parts, shows the possibilities of introduction of new technologies in the BiH electoral process.
“Automatic voting, votes counting, electronic voter identification, Internet voting… have already in use in electoral processes around the world. The aim is to increase the credibility and reliability of election results, or shorten the deadline for election results publishing,” said Irena Hadžiabdić, President of the BiH CEC during the presentation of the publication in the building of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH.
Suad Arnautovic, a member of the BiH CEC, said at the presentation that the Commission initiated the process in order to show a way for possible implementation of technology in the electoral process, to a wider political public and to the members of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly. Emphasizing that technology in the world is enormously advanced, Arnautovic said that BiH, in certain parts of the electoral process, doesn’t follow the modern trends.
“That is why we want to offer alternatives – what is possible solution in the process of voters registration, the implementation of new technologies, how to improve identification of voters at the polling station, what could be done in the voting process by applying new technologies? Is it better to continue to use the present method of voting, which means mechanical and paper voting on the ballot paper, rounding the name of the party and candidate with the pen, inserting it into the ballot box and later count one by one, or change that with some possible alternatives and using technology such as, for example, scanning these ballot papers or using the so-called touch screen machine”, Arnautovic wondered.
He added that every step forward in this regard means certain costs but that there are enough funds.
“Now, if you do not want to have the results in two hours after the closure of the polling station, if you do not want to have absolute accurate data, if you do not want to have full trust in the process, then you will imagine reasons, and one of these reasons is that there is no money. I claim that we have enough money for this improvements, “Arnautovic said.
Branko Petrić, a member of the BiH CEC, also believes that the BiH electoral process technically, technologically and normatively is obsolete and that it needs to be modernized by the introduction of modern technologies.
“This also implies legislative intervention, primarily in the Electoral law. In technical terms, there are only two issues in question. One issue is the voter identification aimed to prevent manipulation with voters and the voter list, and the second, most important, is the introduction of a technological determination of results, or scanning of the ballot papers, and the automatically determination of the results. It is a technique and technology that is applied in modern countries, and that is how the elections in the other countries can determine the results of the election an hour after the end of the vote,” Petric said.
BiH CEC members agree that the solution will be chosen by BiH authorities, but the direction of modernization of the election process will surely be the result of a broad consensus on this issue. But once the process of modernization and introduction of new technologies is initiated, it is irreversible, they concluded./IBNA