Let us embrace electronic electoral system to boost voter turnout

Kenya integrated election management system (KIEMS) Kit,on August 9, 2022. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard].

According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), 14,164,651 of the 22,120,458 registered voters turned out to vote on August 9. Based on IEBC and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the commission had targeted to register 27,857,598 citizens .

On the other hand, the number of persons issued with identity cards stands at 29,566,678, according to National Registration Bureau. In the 2017 presidential and general election, the electoral body registered 19, 611,423 Kenyans. In the five years from 2017 to 2022, the commission managed to register an additional 2,509,035 Kenyans, translating to an increase of 13 per cent.

In the electoral cycle 2013 to 2017, IEBC data indicates that there were 14,352,533 registered voters. This number increased to 19,611,423 therefore the number of voters added to the register grew by 5,258,890, translating to an enormous 36.64 per cent increase.

When we compare the two electoral cycles, there has been a slight change between 2017 and 2022, with 13 per cent increase in comparison to the period between 2013 and 2017 when there was 36.64 per cent increase.

The analysis of the 2022 poll register further shows that the number of enrolled women is 10,865,569, representing 49.12 per cent while the number of men is 11,254,889 representing 50.88 per cent of the total of registered voters. This demonstrates that women are still underrepresented in the election register, and the voting process. To address the issue of apathy in our electoral process there is need to enhance transparency through calibration of the procedure.

There is need to increase the use of technology in line with other democracies. This will reduce manpower and in the process, deliver acceptable electoral outcomes. Contextual understanding and merits of the Electronic Electoral System (ESS) is essential to ensure acceptance and compliance by all stakeholders.

Here are the advantages of EES. First, the EES would reduce the heavy cost of printing ballot papers overseas, which ultimately results in exporting much-needed local jobs. Second, the ESS shall establish an inbuilt audit trail of all ballots assigned at the polling station to ensure verification in the event the need arises. Third, the system ensures that once an elector casts their ballot, there is receipt generated to confirm the process. 

This enhances verifiability. Fourth, in order to maintain confidentiality, the receipt indicates only the polling station without releasing any information about the voter. Fifth, the cast ballots are electronically transmitted to a tally centre where results are tabulated in real time only to be released publicly at the conclusion of the election. Six, the ESS desires to reduce the interface through human labour in the polling process, hence deter electoral malpractices.

Seven, through the use of now emerging block chain technology, Kenya can restructure election processes which address key concerns of being invulnerable with the capacity to trace all activities. This addresses the perennial malaise in the elections where ballots go missing with numbers and results reconfigured.

There is therefore need for the incoming administration to address this technological electoral development. To enhance our democracy there is need to uphold the key tenets of electoral security, accuracy, accountability, verifiability, integrity, and transparency.  

By Stephen Rutto 32 minutes ago
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