Days before his brutal murder, IEBC ICT manager Chris Msando had a candid interview with Africa Uncensored’s John Allan-Namu
During the interview, he indicated the electoral body was more than ready for the polls
James Mwangi transcribed the interview in which Msando identified possible loopholes and how IEBC was going to plug them
Days to elections, you insist your system is well protected and ready to deliver credible outcome. How prepared are you?
We have taken into consideration very many aspects of possible failures. One of them is total failure of the devices. The other is total failure of identification of voters on election day.
In case of total failure of the devices, note that out of the 40,800 polling stations, we have 45,000 devices, meaning we have at least four devices on standby in each ward, fully configured and ready to be deployed in case of full failure of a device.
Because a failure can sometimes be resolved by some technical knowledge, we are deploying 580 ICT assistants who will be well-trained to support the technology on election day, with two in each constituency. We also have technical supporters at all county headquarters.
That will give a level of confidence that assures us that in case we are required to resolve issues of technology failure, we will be able to do so in good time.
Presiding officers are key determinants of polls. What is in place to prevent them from ‘cooking’ results?
Our design for the results transmission workflow has taken care of everybody in the chain. The presiding officer is bound by law to send the results as realised in the polling station and have to scan a copy of the results form and transmit it.
They have access to the results transmission system and can verify those results, validate them within the system but they cannot change those results. That is what we are taking care of as a risk because we want results as transmitted from the polling station to be final.
What they can do is to just validate the results as transmitted from the polling stations, but they cannot make any changes and neither can the national chairman or the national returning officer make any changes to those results.
Besides, forms 34A for presidential results will be available in a public portal accessible by all Kenyans, the media, stakeholders and political parties.
What happens in case the elaborate technology in place flops on election day?
We have put in place ICT regulations and General Election regulation procedures to be followed in case of technology failure, resulting to manual processes and an elaborate procedure that must be approved at the highest level in the Commission.
Will the IEBC solely rely on biometric identification of voters to participate in the exercise?
For purposes of identification, we have put in place complementary methods of alphanumeric search for the voter.
Introduction of the complementary methods was that some Kenyans’ biometrics may have been destroyed for reasons that are not of their own making, such as hard labour.
But in order to identify such people, we have an identification mechanism within the electronic system. This is what we are calling the alphanumerical search using their identification documents.
Our system is also able to scan Kenyan IDs and scan the code and retrieve the details of the voter without using their biometrics. This process also has a procedure in our regulations.
Fishy deals are struck at tallying centres. How will you ensure that this does not happen?
Once the voting is over at the end of the day, the polling stations will be converted into tallying stations and the results tallied right there. For purposes of presidential election, results of the candidates will be entered in form 34A.
This time round, we are doing it differently because it is a carbonated form. The presiding officer will enter the results of every candidate, the names of the candidates will be pre-printed in the form as a security measure.
Once they have entered results in that form in the presence of party agents, the party agents will sign those forms to confirm the correct results. The issues of valid votes and the number of registered voters automatically picks from the Electronic Voter Identification application by the result transmission system, where it will fill in the number of registered voters, number of voters who turned up to vote and whether they were identified biometrically or through alphanumeric search.
Therefore, results cannot exceed those numbers.
How secure from intrusion is your system, from polling centres to the national tallying centre at Bomas of Kenya?
What we are putting in place as a Commission is to ensure that we identify and mitigate all the risks that are out there in terms of technology and breach of systems. We are alive to the fact that those breaches are happening right now but as a Commission, we have invested in security, especially for our systems.
We have secured our system with an end-to-end security solution, which we will use to secure the results and the process from the polling stations, all the way to the tallying centre because we know there could be areas of intrusion that would exist.
We have deployed a four-layer security topology, mainly from the hardware level, the database level, application level and the network level. When results are transmitted from the polling station, the application will encrypt that data.
So, anybody intercepting it in-between is not able to read it.
The encryption technology we have adopted – AES 256-bit encryption – is the highest currently in the world. At the hardware level, all our devices for transmission will be hand-coded so no new devices can be introduced in the chain.
We have introduced the levels of security, scanning and monitoring of the activities across the full network and have secured the network in terms of what we are going to project at the national tallying centre, the county and the constituency.
How then will the general public monitor the vote counting process?
We will push results to a platform that we are yet to launch, but we have already designed. We will be pushing that live information there to put that demarcation between our network and the other public networks.
What we are doing as a Commission is to publish to Kenyans results that are credible from a free and fair exercise despite the propaganda and all the issues people are talking about out there.