Nationwide municipal elections in the Dominican Republican have been paused just hours after polls opened on account of a technical glitch.
Almost 4,000 municipal positions are up for grabs in the Caribbean state, with more than 7.4 million citizens due to cast their votes.
Four hours after voting began on Sunday, a glitch in the e-voting system used in 18 of the 159 local authorities forced the government to suspend the elections for the first time in history. The affected areas are mostly cities and other regions with high population densities, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the electorate. As the widespread glitches became apparent, queues formed around polling stations with voters turning to traditional voting in order to have their voices heard.
Other areas, which were using paper ballots, had voting suspended along with the more populous regions.
According to Julio César Castaños, president of the Dominican electoral body, the failures occurred only in these 18 municipalities. Almost half of the devices used to cast votes malfunctioned with virtual ballot papers failing to load.
“We are going to initiate a thorough investigation of what happened and why those ballot papers did not load correctly,” Castaños told reporters. He added that the elections would be held at an “opportune date” in the future, although a date has not yet been agreed upon.
Eduardo Frei, president of the observer commission of the Organisation of American States, has recommended that the government conducts an audit to determine why the failure occurred, and called for all political sectors to work together to find a solution and hold new elections.
The leader of the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party, Luis Abinader, described the suspension of voting as “outrageous and unjustified”. A number of Dominican opposition parties have been opposed to e-voting due to fears that democracy could be compromised by hackers.
The failure of the e-voting system is likely to raise questions about how to secure the integrity of elections, with just months to go before the Dominican Republic’s presidential elections on 17 May.
Meanwhile, the race in the USA to select the Democratic presidential candidate to take on Donald Trump in the upcoming elections suffered a sticky start as an app created to help report and collate results malfunctioned. While e-voting is not widespread in the US, the ‘Voatz’ e-voting app – which researchers have found is rife with security vulnerabilities – has been used to allow deployed members of the military to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.