By Dr Noah Akala
Did you know that the electoral process for 2017 has already began? Let me explain why…
In the Kenyan context, the integrated electronic voting system has three key components:
1. BIOMETRIC VOTER REGISTRATION
This is set to happen between January 16, 2017 and February 15, 2017. This is where you use your biometrics to register as a voter for the 2017 General Election. For this purpose, BVR kits are required. This is the argument we are currently having with the counterparts. As ODM/CORD, we are insisting that the IEBC lease enough BVR kits to cover the 44,000 polling stations so that everywhere designated as a voting station has a BVR kit. But Jubilee is pushing for a manual registration process. We feel that BVR registration is the only way to ensure that the 8 million eligible voters are legitimately included into the register. This process will also remove “ghosts” that don’t turn up to verify their biometrics – for the simple reason that it means they don’t exist. It requires no manual back up. All the BVR kits do is capture fingerprints, retina scans and earlobe details.
2. ELECTRONIC VOTER IDENTIFICATION
This happens on Election Day. It is when the EVID kits stationed at the polling station are used to identify your fingerprints/retina scan/earlobe to verify that it’s truly you who has turned up to vote. This prevents “ghosts” from voting as has been common practice in the past.
IN 2013, IT IS THE EVID KITS THAT FAILED BUT HOW EXACTLY DID THEY FAIL?
(a) They were not fully charged and therefore would not come on.
(b) The biometrics captured earlier in the BVR kits were not configured into the EVID kits meaning that there were people who were not recognized.
IS THIS ENOUGH TO GO BACK TO A MANUAL REGISTER?
In my opinion, since we still have 8 months, we can surely charge the EVID kits adequately and configure them as well. There is more than enough time to sort out these issues which are more due to competence than to technical failure.
3. RESULTS TRANSMISSION
This is another serious bone of contention. Jubilee puts forward that there are 1,300 polling stations identified by the Communication Authority of Kenya with insufficient GSM network coverage. This would make it difficult to transmit results electronically and therefore they want a manual back up for this transmission.
(a) This same CAK has a KES 2 billion fund under its administration to ensure that all these polling stations have GSM infrastructure. Why not use these 8 months to set it up?
(b) In Kalkol Ward, Turkana and Mosiro, Kajiado, we had by elections there 2 months ago. These areas also have poor GSM network and the IEBC transmitted results using satellite. Why not use satellite transmission in these 1,300 polling stations???
(c) There are a total of 44,000 polling stations. Only 1,300 have poor coverage. Do we roll back the entire system for less than 3% of the polling stations???
(d) The new law requires these electronically transmitted results to be posted on a public web portal for everybody to see. This is actually what Jubilee is trying to avoid.