The elections are incoming, and Kenyans will have a chance to vote for leaders who will serve them for the next half a decade.

During the polls, a lot of things can go wrong. Most of these concerns are technical, and this is because the polling exercises will use technology tools, most of which are not known to the normal Kenyan who will vote or the aspirants.

To this end, presidential Candidate Raila Odinga, who is seeking the top seat for the fifth time this time around, wants some assurances from the IEBC.

His questions have since been compiled by The Standard, which we managed to get a preview of.

The IEBC has also attempted to answer all of them, and we are here to echo them for your consumption.

The Queries

Raila wants to know if the transmission of information, including election results, will be tamper-proof.

The presidential aspirant is also keen on knowing if polling stations will have physical vote registers.

Furthermore, Raila wants to know if the IEBC has an alternative solution to transmitting results in areas that are not served by 3G and 4G (to note, Safaricom 4G coverage in the country is at 97 percent. Safaricom was also used to distribute KEIMS tablet SIM cards to the 40,883 polling stations in 2017).

That is not all: Raila wants clarification regarding if the IEB irregularly delegated roles to Smartmatic BV Holdings. The company, for those who are asking, created and offers electronic voting technology and services that have been designed to make elections ‘more auditable and transparent.’

The Azimio La Umoja aspirant also wants to know what the Commission has done to fix technology capacity shortcomings.

IEBC Responses

First of all, IEBC says that results will be electronically submitted from polling stations to the national tallying centre and constituency tallying centre through a secure network.

Regarding the existence of voter register hard copy availability at polling stations, the IEBC says that this will not be the case this time around as all voters will be identified electronically.

Regarding the transmission of results from areas that are not served by 3G/4G networks, the Commission will issue satellite modems for the exercise. IEBC says that the modems will be deployed to 1111 centres, but this will depend on whether the Commission will have sufficient budgets to do so.

The IEBC has not picked a carrier that is best suited to results transmission as telcos are still being considered. Our guess, however, is that Safaricom will be picked, or both Safaricom and Airtel, or Safaricom, Telkom and Airtel depending on location and coverage.

It should be remembered that in the last polls, IEBC managed the ICT/KIEMS (Kenya Integrated Election Management System) system. The system had been put in place by Oberthur Technologies (OT) and Safran Identity & Security (Morpho) which have extensive knowledge about biometrics, authentication, digital security as well as video and data analytics. 

At that time also, NASA, the party that Raila had vied from alleged that the French firm was unlawfully awarded the tender to provide KIEMs kits citing bribery cases. IEBC had said it would use cloud servers and a backup platform, and the entire process would be done in line with international regulations. At the same time, OT-Morpho/Safran said it would perform a rehearsal for the system before the 2017 re-elections.

These are some of the issues why Raila wants to know if some roles that were previously managed by OT Morpho (2017) have been irregularly delegated to Smartmatic (2022).

IEBC’s answer is that it only shared technical specs with Smartmatic, and that biometric voter registration (BVR) data has since been migrated from OT Moprho to Smartmatic.

IEBC clarifies that KIEMs registers will be locked to specific polling stations via a QR code specific to them, but the tech is still under audit.

We will update this story once we get additional details.

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]