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Voting by technology may be stifling Kenya's democracy
By George Omondi | Updated Aug 16, 2017 at 08:15 EAT
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A voter places her finger on IEBC's BVR kit for id
SUMMARY
  • The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has come under strong criticism after the opposition came out during vote tallying to claim that the system was hacked.
  • IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba, however, defended the system, saying that it was protected form internal or external interference.


Election hacking has been a hot topic ever since the US Democratic National Committee (DNC) had its servers allegedly accessed and information leaked during the 2016 presidential elections. Political bloggers worldwide wrote hundreds of articles accusing George Soros (Hungarian billionaire), who was backing Hillary Clinton, of planning Smartmatic equipment to rig the polls in various states.

In fact, there was even a petition to the Congress to have an emergency session to discuss the voting machines. President Donald Trump later admitted it was likely that Russia was behind the attack as earlier stated by the previous administration and US security agencies.

France was not left out of this interference and electronic voting had to be withdrawn during the June election. Since the withdrawal of the plan due to the high risk of cyber attacks, there has been mixed reactions in the French expatriate community.

Those against electronic voting argue that it is a security concern because the integrity of the vote can't be put behind personal convenience due to the threat of manipulation. One man living in Winnipeg who would have to travel to Toronto to vote in person at the French consulate said, "The suspension of the electronic voting means I simply can't exercise my right to vote. It's a denial of democracy."

I recently visited Estonia, which is a very small State in Northern Europe. They had just concluded their elections and to my surprise, I was made to understand that the elections were conducted through mobile phones 100 per cent cent.

In Kenya, the August 8 General Election has been marred by accusations and counter-accusations by stakeholders, including major political parties. The National Super Alliance (NASA) claims that the server belonging to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was hacked and manipulated, thereby compromising the final results.

Now, if it is possible for an individual or a group to influence the results of an electoral system, is democracy guaranteed through voting by technology? Considering these arguments, most of which are poking numerous holes in the electronic voting system, how is democracy ensured?

George Omondi, outgoing MP, Alego/Usonga

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