Concerning the electronic voter identification and transmission of the results, I think CORD/NASA’s irreducible minimum is that; only registered voters and more so, only those who will show up to vote in that particular polling station end up voting. No dead voters, no underage voters, no crossing of voters names who did not show up and staffing ballot papers for them in the ballot box.
We know the narrative being put across by Jubilee that Canada and Netherlands all have manual voting. Their circumstances, integrity and accountability of the election processes are different from Kenya. We don’t have to borrow a leaf from countries that don’t think of implementing electronic voting; we should borrow one from Ghana and India which have done 99% well with electronic system. We’ve had an entire manual voting since independence, the KANU regime, 2007/8 PEV etc., and we have our own experience, and that’s why we decided to go BVR.
The backup to the electronic system must not be only manual, it can be other devices configured to pick a voter’s biometrics when the main gadget fails. What is paramount is physical presentation of all voters and their biometric identification so that we avoid the voting of dead voters and underage children which was rampant in our previous election as outlined by the Kriegler report.
It’s so mind boggling to see Jubilee – a government which came into power on a platform of digitizing all the systems of governance in our nation, completely backtracking and blatantly backsliding on its election promises to an extent of forcing down our throats manual electoral voter identification and transmission.
So what are the alternatives to manual voter identifications and transmission of the results? First, what Jubilee is proposing is akin to have firewood as backup just in case there is a power blackout, what you need is a generator or solar power not firewood. A large part of the voting process is already manual we need checks and balances and not make it entirely manual.
For voter identification
1. The main BVR Kit for voter identification, a central voters database for that particular polling station i.e. Laptop, finger scanner, etc. this was used during the voter registration process.
2. We can have an independent digital register with an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). Major airports around the world use this technology for passenger identification.
3. An independent digital register with Facial Recognition (face recognition-face scanner gadget) systems. These are commonly used for security purposes but are increasingly being used in a variety of other applications including the voting process.
4. An independent online digital register can be used together with high-quality (laser) printing system. This can work with a finger print scanner or face recognition tool. However, this will need an enormous bandwidth on Election Day and may be pretty expensive. Note: the above four methods work independently of each other and you don’t need internet, bandwidth or 3G except for the last one. Also one does not affect the other and can be used to complement each other just in case one fails.
For the transmission of the results
1. Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) or Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) systems. This will involve cooperation with the leading mobile operators like Safaricom, Airtel, Orange, Yu etc. This can work with or without a smart phone.
2. They can also use online portal systems done using smart phones, laptops, tablets etc., this will need special software or tailored operating system. This will need internet, bandwidth, 3G or 4G.
3. Satellite phone/tablet systems. Contrary to what most people are saying satellite phones access network, some even on the bottom of the ocean floor where GSM or TDMA networks can’t reach. The recent by-elections in Turkana attest to that since the normal mobile operators don’t have adequate network coverage. Also, these three methods can be used to complement each other.