technology improves kenya's electoral transparency

Technology improves Kenya’s electoral transparency

According to the Carter Centre, the use of new technology in handling Kenya’s elections contributed to more openness.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) made good progress in ensuring that the nation’s elections were fair and accountable, according to the center’s preliminary assessment from its expert mission to Kenya’s presidential election on August 9.

The mission found “that significant progress was made in employing technology to increase the transparency and verifiability of the election process,” according to the study, which focuses on the use of election technology.

The Wafula Chebukati-led panel is also criticised for failing to engage in rigorous voter education regarding the use of technology to foster public confidence.

The commission did not do enough to ensure that voters understood the significance of electoral technologies in the run-up to the election, according to the report. As a result, it lost a chance to boost public confidence in the procedures for purchasing goods and services, registering to vote, verifying voter registration, and testing equipment, according to the Carter Center.

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The report also reveals that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration and the nation’s 12th Parliament did very little to support the IEBC in order to advance the overall use of technology in the elections, noting that the electoral agency fell short of the mark due to both timely funding disbursement and a delay in assembling the full commission.

Several obstacles hindered the IEBC’s overall capacity to describe how technology was used in the election for the majority of the process. The report lists a number of these, including the Kenyatta administration’s delay in nominating replacement IEBC members, parliament’s failure to timely approve funding, the late start of preparations, the absence of an IEBC commissioner with experience in information technology, and legal issues that changed key processes at late stages.

The Carter Centre report suggests that the matter needs to be reexamined for the sake of future elections because the country’s presidential petitions raised concerns about external interference to the IEBC’s system, which Azimio La Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga could not substantiate in the Supreme Court after the company Smartmatic International BV, which was contracted by the electoral body, refused to provide access to its access citing security issues.

Despite this, the report notes that “both events raise significant issues for discussion over the upcoming electoral cycle regarding the ownership of data produced by electronic information gathering systems, particularly as it relates to both the use of proprietary software and the processing of data.”

The Carter Centre is also of the opinion that the electoral agency should subject its election technologies to thorough third-party evaluations prior to the polls after being persuaded by the type of technology employed by the IEBC in the elections.

Additionally, it suggests using open-source software, contemporary digital signature protocols, and other cryptographic techniques to strengthen the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the IEBC results transmission system.

IEBC can take the following precautions to lessen the chance that its employees or contractors will abuse their access privileges to IEBC databases in order to see or alter confidential data, disrupt system operations, or both. According to the research, such dangers include supply-chain assaults, in which malicious code is added to an application by security upgrades through third-party components.