Elections in Kenya: the technological headache

By ONYANGO K’ONYANGO

As Kenya heads into next week’s crucial general election, the headache for the electoral commission (IEBC) is how well to implement technology for voters.

It will be a test of the day, but also a legal requirement since the Supreme Court annulled the 2017 presidential election after determining that the Commission did not follow proper procedure in counting the votes and transmitting the results.

Read: Kenyan police and IEBC on truce as concerns about integrity of polls persist

In a petition filed by the then presidential candidate of the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition, Raila Odinga, the court heard that the declared winner Uhuru Kenyatta had benefited from failures in the transmission of the results. The Supreme Court, Kenya’s highest appellate body, said that IEBC failed to meet the requirements stipulated by the Constitution.

The judges agreed with Mr. Odinga, now making his fifth stab at the country’s highest post in the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition, that IEBC’s IT system was infiltrated and compromised and data there interfered, or IEBC officials interfered with the data. He argued that this had happened or they refused to accept that the Commission had messed up the entire transmission system.

“The simultaneous electronic transmission of the results from the polling station to the National and District Scrutiny Center is not only intended to facilitate this verification process, but also acts as insurance against possible electoral fraud by eliminating human intervention. in the results counting chain. This is done by the system, by ensuring that there is no variation between the declared and broadcast results,” the judges ruled in a 4-2 decision.

Commercial

It was the first time that anyone had petitioned the courts based on the transmission of the results rather than the counting of the votes themselves.

The Supreme Court did not find any evidence of misconduct on the part of the candidates, but instead saw evidence of a systemic institutional problem, making it difficult to verify the results.

Before the votes, IEBC chief executive Marjan Hussein told interested parties that the commission would only transmit Form 34As from polling stations to the national counting center.

Read: What are forms 34A and 34B?

“When you talk about the transmission of results, the Supreme Court has actually stated as to what the results are and what should be transmitted. It is very clear that it is actually the form and not the text that needs to be conveyed. That is the 34A form for presidential election purposes from the polling station to the constituency counting center to the national counting center,” Mr. Hussein said in June 2022.

Two of the leading candidates in the presidential race have also embraced the technology ostensibly to protect their votes.

Mr. Davies Chirchir, former chief agent of the ruling party’s Jubilee Party in the 2017 election, heads the Vice President’s wing, while the head of ICT for the Azimio team is Mr. George Njoroge, CEO and CEO of East African Data Handlers.

At the same time, political players have raised concerns about why the IEBC decided to contract with Smartmatic International BV to provide voter identification equipment and software without running background checks on their previous deals.

Last week, three Venezuelans, Joel Gustavo Rodríguez, José Gregorio Carmago and Salvador Javier Suárez, were detained at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for carrying electoral material in their luggage. Since then, the matter has softened, but it is not clear what his rule will be. Since then, Odinga has put the agency to the task of explaining what they were doing in the country with electoral stickers.

Also read: IEBC begins to feel pressure from applicants

Smartmatic International BV, through its Director of Integrated Communications, Ms. Samira Saba, said that the three were full-time employees of the company who had handled elections in other countries such as the United States, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Albania , Philippines, among others.

Leave a Comment