The Four Types of Election Technology Used by IEBC

By George Gĩthĩnji Last updated on
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The Four Types of Election Technology Used by IEBC

IEBC has deployed various forms of election technology to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the electoral process. Section 44 of the Election Act 2011 allows IEBC to use such technology “as it considers appropriate” in the electoral process. The Constitution also dictates that the system that the Commission adopts must be simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable, and transparent.

Since the general elections in 2013, IEBC has used four types of election technology. However, some of the election technology failed during the 2013 elections.

1Biometric Voter Registration System (BVR)

BVR kit (photo: the-star.co.ke)

The BVR system is a form of election technology IEBC uses to register voters. It consists of a laptop, a fingerprint scanner, and a camera. BVR captures a voter′s:

  • facial image;
  • finger prints; and
  • civil data or Personally Identifiable Information (PII)- name, gender, identity card/passport number, telephone number etc.

The registration takes place at the registration centres where an individual expects to vote. IEBC used only the BVR system to register voters before the 2013 general elections.

IEBC transfers the data from the BVR machines to a centralized storage server. It then prints hard copy registers from this storage server. IEBC distributes the physical register, which has thumbnail photo of the voter, to polling centres for people to check and verify their registration details. It also provides for people to verify the register online and via SMS. IEBC uses the registers it prints as back-ups during voting.

People often confuse BVR form of election technology for electronic voting. However, BVR provides IEBC with a basis or foundation for it to possibly implement future e-voting by use of biometric technologies.

BVR:

  • ensures there are multiple methods for IEBC to identify voters uniquely (other than names and IDs, there are finger print and facial features);
  • ensures that capture of voters′ records is fast, efficient and direct;
  • enhances security and privacy of information; and
  • improves integrity and reliability of information e.g. elimination of duplicates.

2Candidates Registration System (CRS)

CRS system (photo: iebc.or.ke)

The CRS is an election technology that ensures IEBC enters primary data on candidates that political parties nominate in a format that makes it easy for IEBC to verify the accuracy of the candidate details, compliance and generate ballot paper proofs. It achieves this by cross-matching the voters register and political party register.

However, IEBC says the system has had its challenges.

Inconsistencies in the data submitted by political parties have posed a challenge on processing of ballot proofs (e.g. mix up of photos). There have also been inaccuracies in the data that political parties submit (e.g. use of nicknames).

Overall, CRS strives to

  • improve data exchange from political parties and independent candidates to IEBC returning officers;
  • Enhance the efficiency of the nomination process through accurate data capture and processing of records by the Returning Officers;
  • Improve accuracy of processing of the ballot papers.

3Electronic Voter Identification System (EVID)

EVID system (source: iebc.or.ke)

In basic terms, as a form of election technology, EVID is an electronic poll book. There are two types of EVID technology:

  • the laptop with attached finger print reader; and
  • the handheld device with in-build finger print reader.

IEBC used EVIDs for the first time during the March 4th General Elections (29,000 laptops and 4,600 handhelds).

The EVIDs verify and confirm voters electronically as registered by BVR. IEBC uses them to “check-in” voters at polling station on polling day and are helpful in streamlining. EVID curbs impersonation and ensures that IEBC allows only those who registered to vote.

However, IEBC experienced some challenges in the March 4th polling day. Some of the EVID machines failed to work largely due to inadequate training and running out of battery charge. In such cases, the polling officials carried out verification of voters using the voter register printouts.

4Results Transmission and Presentation (RTS)

RTS system (photo: iebc.or.ke)

RTS is a system for transmitting provisional results electronically to an observation centre. At the end of voting and when vote counting and tallying ends, the Presiding Officers (POs) enter the data on the signed results sheet (Form 35) into a specially configured mobile phones and transmits the results simultaneous to the election results centres at the constituency, county and national level.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC( uses RTS to:

  • enhance transparency through electronic transmission of provisional results from the polling stations;
  • display and visualize provisional results at the tally centers; and
  • provide access to provisional elections data to media and other stakeholders in real time.
Importance of RTS system

The RTS election technology enables the public to watch live streams of results at the big screens set up by IEBC at observation centres or on national television. IEBC has used it successfully in all by-elections since 2009, the 2010 referendum, and the last general election.

RTS gives quick trends on how the voting went. Obviously, the results from the polling stations with fewer voters are the first to come in. Where the telecoms service provider signal is weak or absent, the IEBC polling officials use satellite phones or travel to where there is adequate signal presence. IEBC identifies the points of transmission in advance. In some cases, IEBC works with mobile phone service providers to enhance the signals at the polling centres.

During the March 4th polls, only 17,000 of the 33,000 polling stations managed to transmit results before technical hitches overwhelmed the system. IEBC had to discontinue this alternative way of getting results when it became too slow. Although IEBC had the problem identified and fixed, a number of officials had abandoned the transmission as they took hard copies of the same to tallying centres.

IEBC said it is working towards strengthening the RTS system by setting up faster connectivity and better servers. For the RTS, the provisional results have always tallied with the final results.

George Gĩthĩnji is a political and social commentator. Twitter @EpikKenyan
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1 COMMENT

  1. Would you know if the Results Transmission and Presentation system ready? The press (and developers) now have less than 3 months to get familiar with it and figure out how to make the best of it.

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