#MyExperienceInTheStates: How The US Voted Electronically

Greetings from the United States of America, I’m honestly having a splendid time here in Minneapolis. Despite the fact that I’m recovering from the election results that shocked the world upon announcement, I have to express my sincere gratitude to the prestigious IVLP program for affording me this opportunity.  In the meantime I am looking forward to New York  tomorrow.

I know I announced live on radio that if I could have voted, I would have thrown all I had for Hillary and was also optimistic that her popular vote would usher her into White house.

By Toneo T. Rutsito

Did you know that weeks before  election day, millions had already cast their votes,  their decision was already made. They were simply waiting for those who actually wanted to vote on the last day to cast their voice before announcing of the results.

While the world is still in disbelief over the election results with more more protests expected, in all fairness I have to say the elections were open, free and fair. Unfortunately, the Americans did not decide the outcome but it rather that of the Electoral College system.

White voter casting her vote in US
voter on Ballot counter casting her vote

Strange as it may sound, if the same elections were held in any African country, Hillary would be walking all the way to the states house, as she was leading with more than 2 million votes. Unfortunately the awkward electoral college system had to decide.
I will not dedicate this insert to describe the electoral college, but maybe give it a take  another day  to fully understand expound on how this animal works.

The Americans seriously need to reconsider this system or even repealing it in the future.

What would be very difficult to understand and even to bring back home is the  high technological system that allowed millions to cast their votes  through various polling stations around the 51 states in the USA.

The technology is nothing but a standalone voting system that may have  paper trail or not, meaning that it could produce paper back up to every vote, or rather keep it digital for each and every vote cast in the ballot.

The smart voting machines are meant to accept a voter after vetting which proves and confirms one is a US citizen, who has registered to vote or may register on the same day before casting vote.

To register, the US citizen rather use a simple system of producing a photo  ID  and some form of proof of residence that confirms that one actually stays in that certain  area.
Speaking to one of the election officers manning the Minnesota poll , in Minneapolis he said that even without a proof of residence one needed someone with a proof ofresidence vouching that they know the candidate and he?she does not have proof of residence because of specific reasons.

US Election executive
US Election executive

The US states polling machines store the votes independently in a certain encryption and tracking codes , which then are transferred to an external  portable storage drive which is kept by not more than two polling  officers, who are known to be apolitical and trusted with the states results.

This goes to show serious trust not only into the system but with the individuals who are overseeing the same elections, another point which Zimbabweans  will struggle to implement back home.

The votes are  digitally signed and stored in an encryption which can  only be decrypted  at the results center where all results will be collated.

The database format in which the results  are stored are can not be altered, once its only a read permission which adds security and removes any doubt into the authenticity of the results

If for whatever reason, any candidate doubts the results, the votes are recounted, and since most of these results have a paper trail, , the recount is done in full view of all observers  as they monitor the process to authenticate and substantiate their digital results with those on the paper trail.

This is an amazing system which saves the nation time and money and more importantly adds credibility to results which is an important feature to have a stable and trusted government  to run the affairs of any nation.

While this cannot be a copy and paste system for Zimbabwe the major problem we are going to face is a trust issue , not in the system but in those running and supervising it.

More importantly  who brings and runs the system matters as well because everyone needs to know if the system can be  trusted  and is fool proof against any sort of tempering  to have credible and trusted results.

More importantly, we may only need to have a paper trail system in Zimbabwe, that then helps in reconciling the actual number of people voting over the digitally signed results.

This system is fast, safe and more credible if all parties involved can first trust and understand how it works. How ever the best way is not ask who imports and supervises the system, rather we should only use one that has bee known to have worked in more democratic countries and allow the reps from those countries to monitor in conjuction with our own local  personnel.

This will help create  elections that are acceptable and credible to drive the nation forward. Will-power  and trust will drive  the nation forward. Zimbabwe is already discussing portions for bio metric voting, its also time to introduce electronic voting.

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