Use of technology improved electoral transparency in Kenya: Carter Center

By ONYANGO K’ONYANGO

The deployment of new technology in Kenya’s election management has helped improve transparency, says the Carter Center.

In its preliminary report of its expert mission to Kenya’s August 9 presidential election, the center says the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) made great strides in making sure polling by the country were transparent and accountable.

The report, which focuses on the use of electoral technology, states that the mission found “significant progress has been made in the use of technology to improve the transparency and verifiability of the electoral process.”

Read: Kenya advocates a ‘non-African’ opening in the electoral process

He also blames the Wafula Chebukati-led commission for failing to conduct vigorous voter education regarding the deployment of technology to build public trust.

“It also finds that the commission did not do enough to help voters better understand the role of election technologies in the run-up to the election. As such, it missed an opportunity to increase public confidence in processes related to acquisition, voter registration, voter verification, and equipment testing,” says the Carter Center.

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little support

The report also finds that the outgoing regime of President Uhuru Kenyatta and the country’s 12th Parliament did little to support the IEBC for the general deployment of technology in elections and notes that the electoral agency fell short due to timely disbursement. of funds, as well as the delay in the constitution of the complete commission.

“Throughout most of the process, several factors impeded the IEBC’s overall ability to communicate how technology was used in the election. These included the Kenyatta administration’s delay in nominating replacement IEBC members, parliament’s failure to approve funding in a timely manner, late start of preparations, lack of an IEBC commissioner experienced in information technology and legal challenges that changed key processes in the end. stages,” the report says.

Since the country’s presidential petitions raised issues of external interference in the IEBC system, which could not be substantiated by Azimio La Umoja One, Kenyan leader Raila Odinga in the Supreme Court after the firm Smartmatic International BV, who was hired by the electoral management body, refused to provide access to her access citing security concerns, the Carter Center report suggests that, for the sake of future elections, the matter should be reviewed.

Read: Tech company refuses to open servers to Raila

Data Ownership

“However, both events raise important questions for consideration during the upcoming election cycle regarding the ownership of data produced by electronic information collection systems, particularly as it relates to both the use of proprietary software and the processing of data. of data,” says the report.

Convinced by the type of technology used by IEBC in elections, the Carter Center also believes that prior to the polls, the election agency should subject its election technologies to rigorous third-party reviews.

It also recommends that the IEBC results transmission system can better safeguard confidentiality, integrity and availability through open source software, modern digital signature schemes and other cryptographic methods.

“IEBC may use the following measures to reduce any risk that IEBC employees or contractors may misuse access rights to IEBC databases to access or modify proprietary information or prevent the system from working properly. Such threats include supply chain attacks, whereby malicious code is introduced into an application via security updates via third-party components,” the report says.

Risk audit

He added: “Carter Center calculations show that a de-risking audit for the August 9, 2022 election would require extracting and inspecting a sample of 909 ballots to be 99.9 percent certain that the announced result reflected the ballots cast. As recommended by the Carter Center in 2017, adopting audits can help increase public confidence in the outcome.”

Regarding complaints by Kenyans before the elections that they were registered as members of certain political parties without their consent, the report suggests that Kenya should ratify the African Convention on Cyber ​​Security and Personal Data Protection.

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