- The Supreme Court of Kenya has affirmed the victory of incumbent deputy president, William Ruto, dismissing the claims of opposition leader, Raila Odinga, his running mate, Martha Karua, and several others that there were several inconsistencies in the tallying of votes;
- During the 2013 and 2017 general elections, Kenya’s electoral body, Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), was accused of manipulating, hacking and misusing the transmitting devices and sites to rig the elections;
- Once again, the use of technology in transmitting poll results to IEBC’s website has sparked controversy concerning the free and fair nature of the Kenyan General election. Begging the question: what does this mean for the ongoing campaign for tech inclusion in the African electoral system?
The future of African elections
Kenya is no stranger to using tech in its electoral process. Since 2013, the country has used electronic voter registration, biometric voter verification and digital transmission of results. However, this is the first time IEBC has uploaded live results from polling units to its website.
In the past, there have been allegations of hacks, or rather, attempted hacking of the result transmission devices. This has led to Kenyans distrusting the vote compilation process and the transparency technology could bring to the electoral process.
During this year’s elections, there was an unexplained one-week delay in announcing the final election result, further increasing the distrust for and bias against the live transmission process. Four members of the IEBC also denied the not-yet-announced results and distanced themselves from the compilation process.
Despite several countries like the US, Australia, and several others, adopting electronic voting (e-voting) to address safety issues and relieve expenditure on election processes, Africa has been seemingly reluctant to join in the trend.
For instance, in Nigeria, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has pushed for the creation of legislation supporting the implementation of an e-voting system but the bill has failed to receive approval from the nation’s president, Muhammadu Buhari.
Kunle Lawal, Executive Director, Electoral College, Nigeria, speaking at a Techpoint Africa-hosted Twitter Space on online voting in Nigeria, said Nigerians’ disregard for civic information, inadequate facilities and infrastructure, and lack of inclusive legislation are challenges to the use of technology in the electoral process.
He also mentioned voters’ apathy, I.P. address spoofing, hacking, and insufficient smartphone and Internet penetration, among other things.
Also speaking at the Space, Creative Designer at the Rivers State Tourism Development Agency, Gift Isaac believes that adopting a hybrid voting system and making e-voting available to voters suffering from disabilities and are located outside the country could be a possible solution.
Isaac also mentioned adopting blockchain for online voting.