Mmegi Online :: IEC awaits Cabinet decision on EVM paper trail
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Last Updated
Friday 24 November 2017, 17:23 pm.
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IEC awaits Cabinet decision on EVM paper trail

In the aftermath of Kenya elections held on August 8, and their subsequent nullification by the Supreme Court of that country, Mmegi caught up with the Independent Electoral Commission of Botswana (IEC) to explain further the animal called the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Staff Writer BAME PIET had an exclusive interview with the secretary of the IEC, Keireng Zuze
By Bame Piet Fri 08 Sep 2017, 16:31 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: IEC awaits Cabinet decision on EVM paper trail








 Mmegi: Can you please explain the distinction between the use of Electronic Voting Machines used in the United States of America, Venezuela and recently in Kenya?

KZ: I may not be able to tell you about EVMs used in Venezuela and US, but what I can clarify is with regard to what was used during the Kenya elections. Indeed the Electoral Amendment Act of 2016 has introduced the Electronic Voting Machines, but we have to understand that Kenya does not use EVMs they continue to use ballot papers. What they use is two machines for Voter Verification/biometric machine that verifies the identity of voters. The other machine that they use is specifically for transmission of results. They continue to use ballot boxes.

Mmegi: So what exactly does our new system entail? Kindly take us through the whole process from registration to the counting centre.

KZ: Section 7 of the Electoral Act empowers the Commission to appoint Voter Registration dates and the dates have been appointed to the period from 3rd September 2018 to 11th November 2018. We will continue with the Election Roll/Voters Roll. After Registration we publish the list of those who have registered to vote such that those who find their names misspelt or missing can rectify the problem, then the roll will be certified to become the final document for use during polling day.

During election we will use the Election Roll and there will be use of EVMs to cast a vote. The machines will be transported to a counting centre where tabulation will be done to get the results. The machines will be connected to tabulating machines to produce the results and the results will be released within a short period of time.

Furthermore, during our consultation meetings we got suggestions that there is need for verification to support the electronic vote referred to as Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail or VPAT.

We have shared these suggestions with the Executive and they are considering introducing the VPAT to form part of the electronic voting system. This will afford the voter to see that they have voted for their preferred party. There will be a paper slip/receipt and collected into a sealed container. These number slips will be compared against the electronic votes and there should be a match. Our expectation is that the slips should tally with what is in the machine. The machine will show votes cast for each party and the ballot slips from VPAT should match with the data in the EVM.

Mmegi: So the slips do not reflect the time the ballot was cast?

KZ: No, because it was not specified to the manufacturer, but the voter will see their vote in a screen. They will also see the slip and watch as the machine cut it and take it to the sealed container. But remember that the VPAT is yet to be introduced into the electronic voting system. Hopefully the coming Parliament will approve the VPAT.

Mmegi: Can you categorically state that EVMs are not susceptible to hacking?

KZ: The use of these machines in India, and Namibia did not give rise to reports of hacking. I think it is because the machines are not network-based because our infrastructure cannot avail network across the country. Yes there were reports of hacking in India but such reports were never proved.

Mmegi: Before using any machine, the consumer has to be satisfied with its condition, how are you going to assure voters about the reliability of the EVMS and that they have not been tempered with?

KZ: There will be a day when the IEC will release the machines to Returning Officers who will take responsibility in the presence of all political parties to see

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for themselves that the machines are in good condition and clean. Then the machines will be sealed with serial numbers. At polling stations, before the polling starts, the machines will be checked in the presence of poling agents from all political parties. At the poling stations we will continue to use the Voters Roll. In addition to that there will be forms that the voter should fill as another measure to ensure that there are checks and balances.

Mmegi: What is going to happen in the event the EVM jams or the battery dies during the voting process?

KZ: The battery’s lifespan is 20 hours, but our voting normally takes eight hours or so. There will be measures put in place to replace EVMs that are dysfunctional and polling agents will be called before the replacement and the initial process of introducing the new machine will be followed; the new machine will be sealed, and all parties will be shown the ballots cast in the dysfunctional machine.

Mmegi: So you have bought helicopters to enable the IEC staff to reach all polling stations that may need replacement of machines?

KZ: We have made arrangements to put them at a centre where officers will respond to a call for a new machine and immediately disburse it.

Mmegi: In Kenya the court ordered the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to avail all the information about each and every machine; who handled it and when; its transmission of results from polling stations within 48 hours. Do you have capacity to comply if there is such an order?

Yes, what I understand is that we are going to place the machines in a place that will make it easy for us to retrieve immediately. We have capacity to track the movement of each machine once the machines have reached us from the manufacturer. We have measures in place to keep track of each and every election material even months after elections. Every machine will be checked in the presence of representatives of political parties.

Mmegi: At the counting centre there will be a tallying process, what happens when there is a complaint over the results?

KZ: The machines keep the data even after tallying and we are not going to erase the data captured since there is no need to do that. The election material will then be taken to the High Court and kept there for a period of six months just in case someone queries the results.

Mmegi: There are reports that voter registration will be restricted to a specific number of people per plot, how true is that?

KZ: We are not aware of any restriction on the number of occupants of a compound. We are aware that there are compounds where there are more than 10 people staying in the same plot number.

We are collaborating with the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services to exchange information on registered plots and verification of the occupants or owners.

If the system shows that one plot has 100 occupants, it will ring a bell to us and we will go and investigate to confirm the number of occupants and whether the plot indeed has capacity to host such a number.

For instance, we will find out if the plot has flats, which can accommodate such a large number of people. This will help us reduce issues of voter trafficking.

Mmegi: There will be no supplementary voter registration, explain why?

KZ: The law says there will be no supplementary voter registration and as you are aware, there is a court case and one of the main points is that the applicants are challenging the cancellation of voter registration. Lets wait for the court outcome.

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