Costa Rica Uses RFID to Monitor Voting Ballots

In order to ensure an accurate ballot-collection process, Costa Rican officials have decided to implement RFID technology in order to track and monitor the sacks that carry filled out paper ballots. Sacks from various voting locations will be collected and sent to a central ballot-counting warehouse, so the implementation of an RFID system is hoped to increase both the speed and accuracy of the process for district elections on December 5th.

Previously, ballot bags were manually checked as they were carried into the central warehouse, but as you can imagine, this was a long, tedious process that was vulnerable to errors. Since bags usually arrive in large clusters, the process would often get backed up. Instead, the upcoming election is hoped to go smoother, with the help of a battery-assisted passive (BAP) EPC Gen 2 RFID tag to identify each bag as it arrives. This process will also be implemented to identification badges issued to observers from various political parties who will be entering the warehouse on election night in order to gain visibility on which observers arrived at what time.

Upon arriving to the warehouse, the ballot bags and people will go through a reader portal around the main entrance, so their tags can be read by a Motorola XR480 fixed-position reader with Motorola antennae in order to create a read zone around the entire entrance. Each time a tag is read, software will collect unique identification dated encoded in the tag, in addition to a time stamp. This information will be forwarded to a main database, where each ID is associated with the polling station where the tag was issued.

In addition to the fixed-position readers, election officials will also use handheld Motorola MC9090 readers in order to seek out specific ballot bags. As a precautionary measure, barcoded labels will also be attached to each ballot bag.

The use of RFID for ballot bag tracking will be the first major deployment of the technology in Costa Rica, and may it be a success!

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