The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has deployed various types of election technology in Kenya. The technology is important to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the electoral process.
The Constitution also dictates that the system that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission adopts must be simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable, and transparent.
Section 44 of the Election Act allows the IEBC to use such technology “as it considers appropriate” in the electoral process.
Since the general elections in 2013, IEBC has used four types of election technology.
The election technology used by IEBC
The types of election technology in Kenya used by IEBC are as follows.
Biometric Voter Registration System (BVR)
The BVR system is a form of election technology IEBC uses to register voters. It consists of a laptop, a fingerprint scanner, and a camera. BVR captures a voter′s:
- facial image;
- fingerprints; and
- civil data or Personally Identifiable Information (PII)- name, gender, identity card/passport number, telephone number etc.
The registration takes place at the registration centres where an individual expects to vote. IEBC used only the BVR system to register voters before the 2013 general elections.
IEBC transfers the data from the BVR machines to a centralized storage server. It then prints hard copy registers from this storage server.
IEBC distributes the physical register, which has thumbnail photo of the voter, to polling centres for people to check and verify their registration details. It also provides for people to verify the register online and via SMS.
IEBC uses the registers it prints as back-ups during voting.
People often confuse BVR form of election technology for electronic voting. However, BVR provides IEBC with a basis or foundation for it to possibly implement future e-voting by use of biometric technologies.
- ensures there are multiple methods for IEBC to identify voters uniquely (other than names and IDs, there are fingerprint and facial features);
- ensures that capture of voters′ records is fast, efficient and direct;
- enhances the security and privacy of information; and
- improves integrity and reliability of information e.g. elimination of duplicates.
Candidates Registration System (CRS)
The CRS is an election technology that ensures IEBC enters primary data on candidates that political parties nominate in a format that makes it easy for IEBC to verify the accuracy of the candidate details, compliance and generate ballot paper proofs.
It achieves this by cross-matching the voters’ register and political party register.
However, IEBC says the system has had its challenges.
Inconsistencies in the data submitted by political parties have posed a challenge on the processing of ballot proofs (for example, mix up of photos). There have also been inaccuracies in the data that political parties submit (for example, use of nicknames).
Overall, CRS strives to
- improve data exchange from political parties and independent candidates to IEBC returning officers;
- Enhance the efficiency of the nomination process through accurate data capture and processing of records by the Returning Officers;
- Improve accuracy of processing of the ballot papers.
Electronic Voter Identification System (EVID)
EVID is an electronic poll book. There are two types of EVID technology:
- the laptop with attached fingerprint reader; and
- the handheld device with an in-built fingerprint reader.
IEBC used EVIDs for the first time during the March 4th 2013 General Elections (29,000 laptops and 4,600 handhelds).
The EVIDs verify and confirm voters electronically as registered by BVR. IEBC uses them to “check-in” voters at the polling station on polling day and they are helpful in streamlining. EVID curbs impersonation and ensures that IEBC allows only those who registered to vote.
Results Transmission and Presentation (RTS)
RTS is a system for transmitting provisional results electronically to an observation centre.
At the end of voting and when vote counting and tallying ends, the Presiding Officers (POs) enter the data on the signed results sheet (Form 35) into a specially configured mobile phones and transmits the results simultaneous to the election results centres at the constituency, county and national level.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) uses RTS to:
- enhance transparency through electronic transmission of provisional results from the polling stations;
- display and visualize provisional results at the tally centres; and
- provide access to provisional elections data to media and other stakeholders in real-time.
Importance of the RTS system
The RTS election technology enables the public to watch live streams of results at the big screens set up by IEBC at observation centres or on national television. IEBC has used it successfully in all by-elections since 2009, the 2010 referendum, and the last general election.
RTS gives quick trends on how the voting went. Obviously, the results from the polling stations with fewer voters are the first to come in. Where the telecoms service provider signal is weak or absent, the IEBC polling officials use satellite phones or travel to where there is an adequate signal presence.
IEBC identifies the points of transmission in advance. In some cases, IEBC works with mobile phone service providers to enhance the signals at the polling centres.
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