Friday, March 3, 2017

State of IEBC Preparedness to Conduct Credible Elections

The National Super Alliance remains committed to co-operation with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to ensure that the institution delivers on its stipulated mandate. We want to be clear on this from the start.

NASA continues to appreciate the Commission’s availability and expression of readiness to address our concerns regarding the elections scheduled for August this year.

We however remain deeply concerned that the Commission remains silent about critical issues we have raised with it in recent weeks regarding its preparedness to conduct free, fair and credible elections in five months’ time.

That is the subject of our briefing today. We will outline the train of events and concerns.
On 20th February 2017, we wrote a letter to the IEBC detailing our concerns about its readiness to conduct free, fair and credible elections. This letter was circulated to and published in sections of the media. Yesterday, the IEBC dispatched a 13-page response to us in which it evaded everything we had raised and contradicted itself and all evidence in public domain where it attempted to address the issues. The following are among the issues we have raised with the IEBC:

The use of an integrated electronic electoral system is now a core element of our electoral system following the enactment of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2016. Section 44(4) of the Elections Act provides that:-“The Commission shall, in an open and transparent manner:-
Ø procure and put in place the technology necessary for the conduct of a general election AT LEAST EIGHT MONTHS BEFORE SUCH ELECTION, and
Ø test, verify and deploy such technology AT LEAST SIXTY DAYS BEFORE A GENERAL ELECTION.”

We raised the concern that as we speak, tender No. IEBC/32/2016-2017 – for the supply, delivery, installation, testing, commissioning and support of the Kenya Integrated Election Management Systems (KEMS) has not been awarded. Two major components of this system, namely the electronic voter identification and the electronic transmission of results equipment and devices are not in place. The biometric voter registration kits are not available in sufficient numbers. The systems have not been integrated and with just five months to go, IEBC has not procured, let alone put in place, the technology necessary for the conduct of the general elections on 8th August 2017. How does IEBC intend to make up for these lapses?

Here, we based our concerns on Section 44(5) of the Elections Act which emphasizes transparency, accountability and the security of technology in use. The Commission is required to carry the political parties and stakeholders on board with regard to:-
• Testing and certification of the entire electoral system;
• Mechanisms for the conduct of a system audit;
• Data storage and information security;
• Data retention and disposal;
• Access to electoral system software and source codes;
• Capacity building of staff of the Commission and relevant stakeholders on the use of technology and the electoral process;
• Telecommunication networks for voter identification and result transmission;
• Development, publication and implementation of a disaster recovery and operations continuity plan; and
• The establishment and operations of the technical committee.

The activities of the Commission in this area remain shrouded in secrecy and opacity, contrary to the provisions of the law. We sought to know why that is the case.

The Report of the Independent Review Commission on the General Elections held in Kenya on 27th December, 2007 (Kriegler Report) noted that “there were serious defects in the voter register which impaired the integrity of the 2007 elections even before polling started.”

We pointed out that Section 8A (3) of the Elections Act compels the Commission to engage a professional reputable firm to conduct an audit of the Register of Voters for the purpose of:-

(a) Verifying the accuracy of the Register;
(b) Recommending mechanisms of enhancing the accuracy of the Register; and
(c) Updating the register.”

As things stand today, IEBC has not made any attempts to get accurate and comprehensive information contained in the national population register for the purposes of an audit of the voter register. It would appear nothing has changed since the Kreigler Report.

With a contaminated and polluted register which has not been subjected to statutory audit, the 2017 elections stand legally compromised even before they are held. We sought to know why the Commission seems determined to ignore both the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and new legislation with regard to addressing the serious anomalies in the register.

Here, we have demanded answers to the following matters and aspects.

a) Proof of the software licenses in use at the Commission and the validity period. We have information that licenses for the software being used by the Commission have not been renewed hence invalid.
b) The identity of the vendor.
c) Disclosure of existing contracts with the original equipment manufacturers to ascertain the status of the servers.
d) Number of servers that are operational and the contractors supporting and maintaining the equipment.
e) Exhibit the applications and database each server is utilizing and an explanation of the function of each application and the imperative for the audit of each server and application.
f) What mechanism of data security protection and internet protection against hacking are being implemented to determine any external interfaces connected to IEBC, or internal threats to electoral data and the identity of the users and their permissions?
g) We need to audit any connections to external internet interfaces and show what is connected from external operators such as DNS servers and the SMS staging servers that are used for verification of registration. We also need to be told what other bodies are connected to these infrastructure for purposes of transferring data as well as importing data to and from other agencies such as NIS, Jubilee Party, National Registration Bureau, the Immigration Department and other Third Parties.
h) The role of technology company Morpho if any, at the Commission.
i) Who is overseeing data testing and debugging of any process that may have been implemented.
j) What are the skills set of the persons operating the database together with their qualifications and identity? An audit of the database will show the identity of the persons who changed the entries.
k) How is the data from the BVR kits moved to the main database? Who is responsible for consolidation? Veracity of the ability of the NIS to access data with a parallel system of managing electoral results.
l) How are data security and data mining tools handled internally at IEBC and can a documented process and checklists be provided. Evidence of any such tools?
m) What data is lying in the equipment that is not operational and what applications were running on them?

NASA has demonstrated to IEBC how the project of the registration of cohorts by NYS has mutated into a fraudulent and parallel exercise of registration of voters. We gave list of names that found their way into the Register of Voters through the questionable NYS project. We have confirmed that the persons involved have no knowledge of being registered as voters and some of them have made the discovery that they have been registered when seeking to register as voters.

Here, the IEBC has responded with a plain lie…that there is no connection between the mass voter registration and the NYS registration. We tabled the evidence and IEBC has not told us how the thousands of young people who registered with NYS found themselves in IEBC registers.

We wish to make it clear that ours is not an attempt to condemn the IEBC. We are sounding a wake-up call to IEBC and the nation. We are asking IEBC whether it sincerely believes that it is ready to conduct free, fair and credible polls? We are asking IEBC to be open and transparent with Kenyans so we can jointly seek and find solutions. We are alerting the IEBC to the reality that the task ahead is not just a matter of elections but a serious case of national security. We stand ready to work with IEBC in search for solutions.



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