Dominion Voting, through its philanthropic support to the DELIAN Project, commits to supporting 1 to 5 local election technology pilots with donated Automated Voting Machines (AVM) in emerging and post-conflict democracies every 12 to18 months over the next three years. This includes the donation of AVMs, localized poll worker training, as well as electoral skill transfer programs for various Election Management Bodies for whom financial resources are scarce. 1 AVM can service on average 1,000 voters, and the initial electoral jurisdictions to be approached would number 50-250,000 registered voters in order to maximize impact with the donated resources available.
The election technology being offer under the DELIAN Project are paper based, optical scan tabulators, manufactured and donated by Dominion Voting (Industry name: ICP-322). Roughly the size of a small FAX machine, these AVMs sit atop a traditional ballot box during a live election. The voting experience does not change dramatically using this form of technology: A voter marks a paper ballot, the paper ballot is then fed into the AVM (which records an image of the ballot and the results), and then the paper ballot then falls into the ballot box. At the close of polls, the various AVMs rapidly tabulate the votes cast, allowing for accurate and timely election results. Additionally, if a physical hand count is required, the original paper ballots are still available to auditors in the traditional ballot boxes. The AVMs being donated to DELIAN have been used in several large jurisdictions such as Canada, the United States, the Philippines, and Mongolia.
The key to a successful deployment of donated AVMs is timely education and training, specifically skills and knowledge transfer training which DELIAN is mandated to provide. Using Dominion Voting's Mongolian experiences, a generic timeline can be created to identify how long it would take a jurisdiction using AVMs to become self-sufficient: For the 2012 Parliamentary election, 16 technicians were deployed train and support the Mongolian Election Commission. During the 2013 Presidential Election the number of outside technicians had dropped to 4. As of 2014, there is no longer a requirement to send technicians to Ulaanbaatar as the Mongolian Election Commission has become self-sufficient. DELIAN intends to offer to emerging and growing democracies all aspects of an election technology deployment including the AVMs (hardware and software), support materiel (such as ballot boxes), as well as technical expertise and training. Given the number of AVMs available, most jurisdictions being targeted are roughly 250,000 registered voters or less. As DELIAN's capacity grows, so too will its resources and ability to support larger elections.
The DELIAN Project will launch in October 2014 with an election technology pilot in Guyana. This will be followed by additional support to emerging and post-conflict democracies, including the facilitation of technology and skill transfer training, in at least one to two Caribbean jurisdictions annually. The current implementation plan for DELIAN is forecast through 2019.
Three sample election technology pilots have been undertaken in recent months to validate the DELIAN concept. These took place in Durban, South Africa; Tbilisi, Georgia; and Kingston, Jamaica. Based on these experiences, DELIAN's Board feels it has the current capacity to support 1 to 5 local election technology pilots every 12 to 18 months for a five year period. To qualify for DELIAN support, the jurisdiction in question would have to be an emerging, growing, or post-conflict democracy with limited access to resources. As an example, DELIAN would likely not operate in a European context, but could support small jurisdictions in West Africa. Given its proximity, small population sizes, and need, DELIAN plans to focus on the CARICOM group of Nations initially. At time of writing, a request has been received to support an election technology pilot this October in Guyana which has suffered post-electoral violence in the past. Information about DELIAN's services will be disseminated through various election conferences, its partnership with the Government of Canada, and networks such as CGI. From time of an initial request for election technology support, to the time a jurisdiction is self-sufficient with AVMs is likely three election cycles (anywhere from 3 to 12 years depending on the frequency of elections).
Based on the number of jurisdictions to be ideally supported every 12 to 18 months (1 to 5), and the maximum number of registered voters in each jurisdiction, it is estimated up to 4,400 people could directly benefit from technology and skills transfer training. This number is derived from the number of poll workers required to run and support an election of roughly 250,000 registered voters using AVMs, multiplied by the number contests to be supported every 12 to 18 months. Jurisdictions that have a history of post-electoral violence due to delayed results (Guyana), or locations suffering the long-term effects of a Natural Disaster (Monserrat) would be given priority for DELIAN support if they are interested.
A key trigger for post electoral violence in several emerging democracies is often the extended period of time it takes to release results (often days to weeks). In the 2007 Presidential Elections in Kenya, it took five days before the official results were released. By this time, the opposition parties had conducted internal reviews and a protracted influence campaign in order to declare their leader the winner. When the actual accredited results were released under UN supervision indicating the incumbent had won, wide spread violence erupted over allegations of fraud despite the fact the international community had declared the process legitimate. The end result of this violence was over 1,500 deaths, as well as 250,000 internally displaced persons. The use of an automated vote tabulation machine could have provided accurate results within hours, thus alleviating the days of confusion driven by lack of information.
The Election Management Bodies (EMB) in several emerging democracies lack the tools and funding to support the deployment of electoral technology which can rapidly release results. Access to resources is the general barrier to entry. When funding and access to election technology can be secured, the reduction in post-electoral violence can be substantial. As an example, the 2008 elections in Mongolia were followed by mass rioting and multiple deaths as a result of the delayed release of election results. Following a National level deployment of Automated Voting Machines, the 2012 Mongolian elections were violence free, with 80% of results known within four hours of the close of polls.
Part of the solution is the directed application of electoral technology in the voting process, including for citizens with physical disabilities. Election technology improves the electoral process by providing accurate and timely results following the close of polls, eliminating the need for lengthy recounts while greatly reducing opportunities for voter fraud.