Elections Technology

Electronic Voter Identification System (EVID)
Electronic Voter Identification System (EVID) (source: iebc.or.ke)
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On our elections reporting pages, we are publishing on RoGGKenya.org what has disappeared on the IEBC website last week: A more detailed information on the election technologies that the Kenyan IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) will be using in the August 2017 general elections. The information given on this page reflects the state of plans and views of the IEBC as of February 23 which is when we collected the information as it was given on the site. Critical views of the technology and the process are not part of this page. (status: June 19, 2017)
To see how IEBC information policy is changing over time tou may compare our page to what is published on www.iebc.or.ke (ext. deep link).

Biometric Voter Registration System (BVR)

The BVR system is used for registering voters and it comprises a laptop, a finger print 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 is expected to vote. The BVR method of registration was the only system deployed by IEBC to register voters just before the 2013 general elections.

IEBC transfers the data from the BVR machines to a centralized storage server from which hard copy registers are printed. The physical register, which has thumbnail photo of the voter, is distributed to polling centres for people to check and verify their registration details. IEBC also provides for the register verification online and via SMS. The printed registers are also used as back-ups during voting. Often confused for electronic voting, BVR nevertheless provides a basis or foundation for possible future implementation of e-voting by use of biometric technologies.

BVR ensures that:

  • There are multiple methods of identifying voters uniquely (other than names and IDs, there are finger print and facial features)
  • That capture of voters′ records is fast, efficient and direct
  • Security and privacy of information is enhanced
  • Integrity and reliability of information is improved e.g. elimination of duplicates
Candidates Registration System (CRS)

The CRS ensures that primary data on candidates nominated by political parties are entered in a format that makes it easy for IEBC to verify the accuracy of the candidate details, compliance and generate ballot paper proofs. This is achieved by cross-matching the voters register and political party register.

However, 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 submitted by Political Parties (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

How CRS works

Candidates Registration System (CRS)
(source: iebc.or.ke)
Electronic Voter Identification System (EVID)

In basic terms, 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.

EVIDs were used 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. They are used to ″check-in″ voters at polling station on polling day and are helpful in streamlining. EVID curbs impersonation and ensures that only those who registered to vote are allowed to vote.

However some challenges were experienced in the March 4th polling day when some of the 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 print outs.

Results Transmission and Presentation (RTS)

RTS is a system for transmitting provisional results electronically to an observation centre. At the end of voting and when votes have been counted and tallied, 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.

RTS is used to:

  • Enhance transparency through electronic transmission of provisional results from the polling stations
  • Display and visualize provisional results at the tally centers
  • Provide access to provisional elections data to media and other stakeholders in real time
RTS System
Interactive visualization of results (source: iebc.or.ke)

The RTS enables the public to watch live streams of results at the big screens set up by IEBC at observation centres or on national television. It has been used successfully in all by-elections since 2009, the 2010 Referendum and the last general election. Although the electronic results are “provisional” because it they lack legal recognition, the outcomes reflect the final hard copy results.

RTS gives quick trends on how the voting went. Obviously, it is the results from the polling stations with fewer voters that 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. The points of transmission are often identified 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 it was overwhelmed by some technical hitches. This alternative way of getting results had to be discontinued when it became too slow and although the problem was identified and fixed, a number of officials had abandoned the transmission as they took hard copies of the same to tallying centres.

The Commission says it is working towards strengthening the RTS system by setting up faster connectivity and better servers. This is demonstrated by the efficient way results for by-elections conducted thereafter have been successfully transmitted. Provisional results have always tallied with the final results.

The Legal Mandate for Elections Technology

Section 44 of the Election Act 2011 allows IEBC to use such technology as it considers appropriate in the electoral process.