KICTANet writes to Senate with proposals on technology use during elections

Kenya’s ICT professionals have now moved to formally have their voices heard regarding the raging debate over the use of technology during the general elections slated for the third quarter of this year.

Through their umbrella organisation, the Kenya ICT Action Network (or KICTANet), a multi-stakeholder platform for people and institutions interested and involved in ICT policy and regulation, the ICT professionals on January 3 sent a memo to to the Senate with their proposals on the contentious Elections Law (Amendment) Bill 2016.

Among the proposals in the memo, signed by KICTANet’s co-convener Grace Githaiga, is that “once the IEBC system has been procured,” it be made possible for the technical committee to come to a consensus on how to mitigate potential vulnerabilities of the system.

“Good systems are built with inherent redundancy and it is possible to develop a system that safeguards the integrity of the vote as well as efficiency of transmission. It is possible to have the primary and redundant systems being electronic,” states the KICTANet memo.

Regarding the Results Transmission System (RTS) and the argument that “there are areas that do not have network coverage,” KICTANet proposal is that “these are few areas which can be covered by alternative technologies such as Wimax, VSAT, or satellite phones”, adding that “the costs associated with these technologies could comfortably be covered by the Universal Service Fund” managed by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

KICTANet also proposes that “the threshold of acceptable failure should be agreed beforehand,” adding that the amendment be further amended to include mitigation instances of failure of EVID equipment through proper training, pre-charging devices and having a backup of devices and that the EVID devices should be “local databases that do not require real time network connection”. The ICT professionals lobby further argues that “the databases should be audited post voter identification and results transmission.”

Still on the RTS, KICTANet, the lobby proposes that Results Transmission System should also have redundancy. “The centers transmitting results should have at least three different means of transmitting results so as to improve the efficiency of the system,” KICTANet states in its memo to the Senate.

Through the letter, KICTANet hopes that its views will be taken onboard when the various political factions agree on the way forward regarding the issue of whether the country should employ manual or electronic backup of voting and transmission of election results during the August 2017 general elections.

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