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April 17, 2019

Using technology to simplify the election process

By Xolile Ndlangana, Marketing Director at Boxfusion

So much of our lives is simplified through the use of everyday technology, and yet this still has to filter through to the way we select our government, both on a municipal and a national level. With local elections looming, it’s time to consider what technology could bring to the process of voting.

Since 1994, South Africa has received a clean bill of health when it comes to the validity of our voting process. However, the number of people registering and participating in the actual electoral process has dropped since then, with over a million people not registering to vote in the 2014 election.

Infusing elections with digital technology could not only see the registration rate increase, but also improve the participation rate. By being able to register biometrically and vote on digital platforms, many more South Africans, including the elderly, or the remote, would be able and willing to cast their vote, as the difficulty of getting to the poles is removed.

Paper, whether it’s an application for a marriage certificate or a submission within a government department, is prone to getting lost or misplaced. The same can be true for ballot papers. Removing these pitfalls through a digital vote can not only increase the authenticity of the election, but also allows for a faster results outcome. The votes can be counted as they are cast. Using security software like biometrics and blockchain technologies, we can ensure that this process is secure and valid.

Prior to the actual election day, using digital platforms can help better educate voters on the process, the parties and their manifestos at the touch of a button. Tapping into the pervasiveness of smart and feature phones across the country will allow us to better communicate with and motivate citizens to make their mark on election day through various platforms and USSD opt-in communications.

This year, 54% of voters fall between the ages of 20-29, while 16% of voters are 18 or 19 years old. This generation of digital natives increasingly puts more faith in technology than in human abilities. By creating a customer-like experience through technology when it comes to casting a ballot, we can not only encourage greater exercise of this freedom we fought so hard for, but also improve trust in our unbiased institutions.

Automating state functions, like voting, is a key facet of moving into the Digital Age. While we wait for these technologies to take hold in our electoral process, Boxfusion will continue to partner with the public sector to automate other essential back-office processes in government.