Universities: the sector that took electronic democracy in 2021

  • Written by EVoting Communications
  • /
  • December 30th, 2021

With 143 processes carried out in 2021, 52% more than in 2020, EVoting's EUniversities platform was used by almost a third of Chile's higher education campuses.

Since the massification of democratic processes through remote electronic mode began, the academic world has been one of the fastest to adhere to this new modality. What for EVoting began in 2018, with the first electronic voting at the Andrés Bello and Mayor Universities, it crystallized in 2021 with 20 higher education campuses -17 Chilean, 2 from Costa Rica and 1 from Ecuador-. This is more than double the number of campuses compared to 2020, and an 850% increase in 3 years.

The 143 processes carried out in 2021 represent a 52% increase in activity in this area compared to 2020; and of the 20 universities that worked with the company in the year that just ended, 17 are Chilean, which represents almost a third of the country’s higher education institutions.

Very high participation. Something that characterizes the university environment is its prestige and legitimacy, based mainly on its high levels of rigor and permanent updating of knowledge. “Working with the academic world has required great commitment and rigor because, as in all their work, they are very demanding with their processes,” says Felipe Lorca, EVoting’s Voting Manager. In his opinion, this same demand is expressed in the high participation rates in their processes: “On average, including all types of voting, the university world registers an 82% participation rate. And if we look only at the academic processes, this reaches almost 90%”, adds Lorca. This is coherent with the appreciation that the highest authorities of the campuses express regarding the experience with remote electronic elections. Juan Manuel Zolezzi, rector of the University of Santiago, Chile, who has been working with EVoting since 2020, affirmed that the election processes developed in his campus with electronic voting “have been optimally resolved”. While Carlos Saavedra, rector of the Universidad de Concepción, Chile, which has more than 75 processes with EVoting, emphasized that in these processes “the information, secrecy and integrity of the vote is guaranteed”.

Other countries in the region. Of the total number of university processes in 2021, 15 were carried out in Costa Rica -at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the Technological Center- and 3 at the University of Cuenca, Ecuador. Sara Baccaglio, member of the UCR University Electoral Tribunal said she was struck by “how easy it was for people to exercise their right, even people who do not have much experience in the use of technological tools could easily make their choice and express their will in a vote. They approached the court saying ‘but how come we haven’t done this before?” Meanwhile, Pablo Palacios, Coordinator of Computer Services at the University of Cuenca, adds, “We want to promote this online voting service in a formal way.”

Consolidation 2022. In EVoting’s opinion, this process of consolidation of electronic democracy in the classroom will only be on the rise during 2022 with the renewal of services for longer periods by major universities, as well as the incorporation of new campuses to the portfolio. Lorca emphasizes that the constant innovations to the EUniversities platform have allowed the realization of elections in all the university bodies: elections of rector, deans, department directors, student federations, representatives to councils and joint committees, directives, triestamental plebiscites and consultations to the whole community.