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Tech the trump card in Kenya's elections

Kenya , 15 Aug 2017

Tech the trump card in Kenya's elections

Experts have lauded the use of technology in this year's elections and believe it should serve as a model for future political contests.

According to Election Observation Group (ELOG), the success rate in terms of technology use was better this year than that of the 2013 general elections.

In its post-election preliminary report, ELOG stated that, "In 7.6% of the stations, the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) failed to function properly. This is an improvement from 2013 when electronic poll books malfunctioned in 54% of stations."

Local ICT commentator Tom Makau agrees. "The new system was more user-friendly and with an intuitive user interface than the one used in 2013. Other than the devices themselves failing, I don't think I heard of a case of lack of effective use of the devices by election officers."

He added that the KIEMS kit helped to identify voters, but did not make the process faster.

"It has eased the identification process (and hence credibility and accuracy of the register) but it has not eased the voting process," Makau explained.

He said it took an average of seven minutes for a single voter to be identified and cast their ballot.

"I think the next step is to introduce electronic voting. Also to eliminate issues to do with honesty of results transmission and storage, adapting blockchain technology on the electioneering process would greatly enhance transparency. There will however be a lot of stakeholder education needed for this to be adapted," he added.

The announcement of the election results triggered an immediate response from the opposition coalition, who claimed the system was compromised.

ELOG called upon stakeholders to make elections results relays more transparent to improve on the integrity of the elections. Makau holds the same view.

"To a large extent tech is an enabler of transparency which to me is a moral issue as far as elections are concerned ... technology can aid transparency but not completely solve the transparency issue," Makau concluded.

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