Belgium: Custom voting solution enables seamless election experiences for all

Smartmatic supports 4,243 polling sites in 185 municipalities in Belgium
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Belgium has used Smartmatic as its exclusively voting technology provider since 2012, deploying more than 30,000 devices in the Flanders and Brussels-Capital regions, and in the German-speaking Community of Belgium. This has enabled a seamless election experience for voters and poll workers and reduced the time to broadcast official results.

The voting machines work in Belgium’s official languages, Flemish, French and German, making elections more inclusive and increasing participation.

In 2018, new voting machines (A4-517) and president machines (VIU-805),  both featuring innovative designs and user-friendly interfaces, were added to the country’s existing automated voting platform. In addition, polling stations in Aalst and Mechelen used Smartmatic’s assistive technology to help voters with visual disabilities navigate the ballot and vote independently.

Scope

In the most recent election (2019), Smartmatic provided election technology and services to more than 4,200 polling stations across 185 municipalities in Flanders, Brussels Capital Region and the German-speaking community.

Technology

Voting Machines

Belgium has deployed two generations of Smartmatic voting machines: the SAES-3370 and the A4-517. These machines, with 17-inch touchscreens, allow voters to easily make, verify, correct and confirm their choices. A built-in printer produces paper ballots with the voter’s choices, so the voter can verify that the paper matches the selections they made on the touchscreen before the paper ballot becomes the official vote.

The printer generates the ballot in plain, human-readable text, and a QR code. The printed ballot does not become a registered vote until it is scanned and deposited in the electronic ballot box by the voter.

President Machines

The President Machines (PMs) help poll workers to conduct the election. These machines have four main functions:

  • To activate smartcards that voters use to access the voting machines
  • To electronically register and store each vote
  • To count all votes and store the results and
  • To generate a polling station report

The PMs work in conjunction with peripheral devices. The first, the smartcard reader unit, features a contact chip card that enables the poll worker to match each voter’s profile with the appropriate ballot on the voting machine.

e-Urn (electronic ballot box)

The second is the e-Urn, or electronic ballot box. This device reads the ballot’s barcode and transfers the data to two separate USB pen drives before capturing and storing the paper ballot.

Services

Smartmatic couples its advanced hardware and software with a complete suite of services to guarantee flawless execution. In Belgium, it has provided pre- and post-election services and Election Day field support, including a help desk/call center.

  • “Train the Trainer” and “Members of poll offices” onsite training sessions
  • Voter education activities including demos, videos and printed material
  • Technical support to the electoral agencies in mastering the election data (by means of the Smartmatic ECM—Electoral Management System—and mass duplicators for pen drives)
  • Controlled delivery and collection of voting devices, from the warehouse to the poll offices and vice versa
  • Installation and disassembly of voting devices in the poll offices
  • Technical field support on Election Day including dispatching services for field engineers and voting devices