The Supreme Court will on 17 January hear arguments on the electoral challenge through which independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula and four others are trying to get a rerun of Namibia’s presidential election. Supreme Court judge Dave Smuts today presided over a case management hearing with the various parties to the case to establish a timeline for the filing of court papers and to determine the date of the final hearing. Itula and the other four applicants are basing their attack on the conduct of the presidential election on the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s decision to make use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), and are arguing that the Electoral Act required that the ECN could make use only of EVMs accompanied by a verifiable paper trail.Full Article: Election court challenge to be heard in January - The Namibian.
Articles about voting issues in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nigeria: National Electoral Commission says electronic voting not yet feasible | Eric Ikhilae/The Nation Newspaper
The National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said electronic voting systems could only be introduced into the nation’s electoral process when the nation was sure of the appropriate technologies, provide infrastructure, to address cyber security, among other challenges. According to INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the country was not there yet. He was however confident that his agency could achieve electronic collation of results (e-collation) and electronic transmission of results (e-transmission) during the next election circle in 2023. Mahmood spoke in Abuja on Monday at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR) stakeholders’ forum on elections. NCSSR is a coalition of civil society organisations, led by Clement Nwankwo, the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC). The INEC Chairmen, Deputy Senate President, Snetor Ovie Omo-Agege and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami were unanimous on the need to review the nation’s Electoral Act before the next election season and particularly, the importance of creating the much-requested Electoral Offences Commission.Full Article: Just in: E-voting not yet feasible - INEC - The Nation Newspaper.
Faulty machines caused delays as voting got underway Wednesday in Namibia’s general election that is set to hand President Hage Geingob a second term and extend the almost 30-year rule of the South West Africa People’s Organization even as the economy flags. Voting came to a standstill at a polling station on the outskirts of the capital, Windhoek, after it ran out of forms. A WhatsApp message group created for journalists by the Electoral Commission of Namibia, reported malfunctioning electronic voting machines at various stations, including one in Windhoek. Geingob said he was confident of another victory. “I campaigned like hell,” he told told reporters after casting his vote. “If I lose I will accept it. I am a democrat.” After securing 87% of the presidential ballot in 2014 and the ruling party garnering 80% support in the parliamentary vote, neither are realistically at risk of losing their majority, even if their margins of victory may narrow.Full Article: Electronic Glitch Makes For Slow Start to Namibian Elections - Bloomberg.
The National Working Committee of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday met with representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over issues of electoral reforms. Leaders of the political party during the meeting urged the electoral body to lead the process of electoral reforms that will legalise electronic voting and reduce military presence during elections. “I would like to urge your commission to move quickly and initiate Electoral Act amendment that will legalise electronic voting and remove the influence of the military as primary security on the Election Day,” National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, said while welcoming the INEC representatives to PDP National Secretariat, Abuja. The party also lamented over alleged military involvement in elections noting that the recent elections including the 2019 general elections calls the integrity of the electoral umpire to question. “Despite a standing lawful court ruling that military should be kept at a distance during elections as secondary security, we have all watched how they not only took over the primary security role from the Police but in some instances dictated and even connived with some INEC officials,” they said.Full Article: PDP Asks INEC To Push For Legalisation Of Electronic Voting – Channels Television.
A Namibian court dismissed a case on Monday aimed at preventing the use of electronic voting machines in its presidential election, which opponents of President Hage Geingob fear could be used to rig the result. Namibians will elect a president on Wednesday, with Geingob expected to be win with a reduced margin owing to voter anger over the worst economic crisis since independence from apartheid South Africa three decades ago. The use of voting machines has been controversial both within and outside Africa. Critics say they make it easier to fiddle the result than traditional pen and paper ballots. However, Magistrate Uaatjo Uanivi ruled that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to forbid the electoral commission from using them. Opposition leader McHenry Venaani told reporters he was disappointed with the ruling. “EVMs (electronic voting machines) in their current form do not address the question of transparency of the vote and I thought the court would put more effort into addressing (that) … question,” he said.Full Article: Namibian court throws out case against voting machines - Reuters.
The Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted. A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week. A copy of the bill exclusively obtained by The Guardian also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader. “At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
More than 100 protesters on Saturday took to the streets of Windhoek to vent their frustrations and anger around the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) at the upcoming presidential and National Assembly elections. The protestors started their demonstration in the Havana informal settlement on the outskirts of Windhoek, and headed to the head office of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), where they were expected to hand over their petition to the commission’s chief electoral and referenda officer, Theo Mujoro. Mujoro did not show up on the day to receive the petition. “I don’t take instructions from the Namibian Police. I read about the intention of people to march on social media. Nobody has written to me as the chief electoral officer or the commission about the planned march. So, I had no obligation to receive anything from anybody,” Mujoro told Nampa on Saturday.Full Article: Windhoek protesters call for EVM removal - The Namibian.
Africa: Russia Tests New Disinformation Tactics in Africa to Expand Influence | Davey Alba and Sheera Frenkel/The New York Times
Russia has been testing new disinformation tactics in an enormous Facebook campaign in parts of Africa, as part of an evolution of its manipulation techniques ahead of the 2020 American presidential election. Facebook said on Wednesday that it removed three Russian-backed influence networks on its site that were aimed at African countries including Mozambique, Cameroon, Sudan and Libya. The company said the online networks were linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch who was indicted by the United States and accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. Unlike past influence campaigns from Russia, the networks targeted several countries through Arabic-language posts, according to the Stanford Internet Observatory, which collaborated with Facebook to unravel the effort. Russians also worked with locals in the African countries to set up Facebook accounts that were disguised as authentic to avoid detection.Full Article: Russia Tests New Disinformation Tactics in Africa to Expand Influence - The New York Times.
The National Cyber Security Advisor, Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako has called on the Electoral Commission to put robust cyber security measures in place to protect its system from hacking. Given the reported cases of hacking of electoral systems in other countries during elections, there was the need for the EC to put measures in place to protect the Commission of cyber attack. Dr Antwi-Boasiako made the call in an interview with the Ghanaian Times after a high-level discussion on election and cyber security to close the 2019 National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The one-week programme, attended by participants and ministers from some West African countries was on the theme “Demonstrating Ghana’s cyber security readiness.” It was organised by the Ministry of Communications and National Cyber Security Centre to create awareness on cyber security issues and attacks and the impact of the menace on the economy, corporate bodies and individuals.Full Article: Ghana: EC Cautioned About Cyber Security Fraud - allAfrica.com.
Recent reports that a number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) were missing from the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) have sparked massive public criticism, with some people questioning the integrity of the election body in the run-up to next month’s presidential and National Assembly elections. Some political commentators and legal experts have accused the electoral commission of concealing information regarding the disappearance of the EVMs, while others called for the arrest of people responsible for the missing EVMs. The Namibian reported last week that the Namibian Police were investigating a case involving the disappearance of three EVMs from the ECN. The ECN issued a statement on Sunday, explaining that the missing EVMs were rented out to the ruling Swapo Party to conduct an internal election for the party’s Elders’ Council in 2017. The commission, however, remains tight-lipped about the issue, saying it could not publicly pronounce itself on the matter due to “concerns of compromising the investigation process, as the police are working to trace the EVMs that had gone missing.”Full Article: Namibia: Lost EVMs Raise Doubt On Election Credibility - allAfrica.com.
Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) Jean Mensah Thursday disclosed that the Commission was in the process of acquiring technology that would guarantee the absolute sovereignty of the Ghanaian electoral process. The system, which she said would be owned, managed and operated at a lesser cost by the Commission, would ensure that elections were free, fair, credible, and not subject to third party manipulations. Madam Jean made the disclosure when the EC called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House in Accra. The call on the President formed part of the Commission’s wider consultations with key stakeholders as it seeks to initiate reforms to promote efficiency, transparency and accountability around its activities. Explaining that the EC was weakest at its Information Technology Department, the EC Chairperson said since 2011, vendors controlled elections and had unlimited access to the department both remotely and physically. And as a result, the vendors, who supplied both software and hardware and managed it for the EC, could shut the Commission’s Data Centre down at anytime.Full Article: EC To Acquire New Technology For Elections | Politics | Peacefmonline.com.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has postponed the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) hacking challenge that was scheduled to take place later today. Vikitoria Hango, Corporate Communications Officer of the Electoral Commission of Namibia said the event is called off following a communication from majority of members of the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PLC) who requested the ECN to postpone the EVM hacking challenge date to allow political parties’ sufficient time to prepare for the session. Hango said the political parties have raised a number of concerns with regard to the credibility and integrity of the EVM both to the Commission and various communication platforms such as newspapers and social media. Political parties allege that the EVMs can be hacked to store results other than the choice of voters and that it can be tampered with to favour a particular candidate or political party by altering the results stored in the EVMs after the polls.Full Article: ECN postpone EVM hacking challenge - Informanté.
Africa: Libya Uncovers Alleged Russian Plot to Meddle in African Votes | Samer Al-Atrush, Ilya Arkhipov, and Henry Meyer/Bloomberg
Libyan security forces have arrested two men accused of working for a Russian troll farm seeking to influence elections in the oil exporter and other African countries. A letter from the state prosecutor of the internationally-backed Tripoli government to a Libyan security chief said the men were involved in “securing a meeting” with Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, the fugitive son of the ousted dictator and a potential presidential candidate who enjoys the backing of some officials in Moscow. Russia’s foreign ministry said it was aware of the reports and was seeking to verify them. “We haven’t received an official notification from the Libyan side regarding this matter,” the foreign ministry’s press service said. Laptops and memory sticks found with the suspects showed that they worked for an outfit identified as Fabrika Trollei, Russian for Troll Factory, that “specializes in influencing elections that are to be held in several African states” including Libya, the letter, stamped by the attorney general’s office and obtained by Bloomberg, stated. Two Libyan government officials with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed the authenticity of the document. Fabrika Trollei was the moniker given to a network of media and political outfits connected to Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who’s been accused by the U.S. of funding and organizing operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Prigozhin has been in contact with representatives of Saif al-Islam over his future political role, according to three people familiar with the situation.Full Article: Libya Uncovers Alleged Russian Plot to Meddle in African Votes - Bloomberg.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia will hold a public event where technicians will test the electronic voting machines (EVMs) for possible defects. ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja told a media event in Windhoek yesterday that the commission has received numerous requests from political parties and a parliamentary standing committee to investigate whether the EVMs can be hacked. She said the public testing of the EVMs will be held on 18 July 2019, and the commission will use information technology (IT) students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology to test the machines. The ECN boss said political parties will also be allowed to bring their own technicians to confirm “any allegations they might have with regards to the EVMs”.Full Article: Voting machines to be tested in public - The Namibian.
Africa: Leaked documents reveal Russian effort to exert influence in Africa | Luke Harding and Jason Burke/The Guardian
Russia is seeking to bolster its presence in at least 13 countries across Africa by building relations with existing rulers, striking military deals, and grooming a new generation of “leaders” and undercover “agents”, leaked documents reveal. The mission to increase Russian influence on the continent is being led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman based in St Petersburg who is a close ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. One aim is to “strong-arm” the US and the former colonial powers the UK and France out of the region. Another is to see off “pro-western” uprisings, the documents say. In 2018 the US special counsel Robert Mueller indicted Prigozhin, who is known as “Putin’s chef” because of his Kremlin catering contracts. According to Mueller, his troll factory ran an extensive social media campaign in 2016 to help elect Donald Trump. The Wagner group – a private military contractor linked to Prigozhin – has supplied mercenaries to fight in Ukraine and Syria.Full Article: Leaked documents reveal Russian effort to exert influence in Africa | World news | The Guardian.
An election governing body in Malawi has done its first test of a system that tallies election results, as a May 21 poll draws near. Testing of the Results Management System is meant to find weaknesses and glitches, as officials hope Tuesday’s exercise will help calm fears of election rigging. Officials placed staff and equipment at election centers across Malawi to transmit results to the main tally center in Blantyre. Jane Ansah, chairperson for the Malawi Electoral Commission, says the test exercise is meant to calm fears that election results might be tampered with. “This is one of the issues of transparency. We invited people to come and witness this test run, and I believe, as they witness the test run, they will be assured that there is no reason or any basis for any fears of hacking the system,” Ansah said. However, the test did uncover network glitches in the Results Management System, especially at voting centers in rural areas. The test exercise began nearly an hour late because of connectivity problems. Some tallying centers in southern Malawi — like Nsanje district — failed to transmit results to the main tally center.Full Article: Malawi Tests Election Results System Amid Network Challenges.
Until the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill is passed into law any election result that is electronically transmitted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is illegal, a cross section of Nigerian lawyers has said.
In their contributions to the raging controversy over INEC’s purported transmission of the results of the 2019 presidential election, the lawyers told LEADERSHIP Weekend that it amounts to illegality for the commission or its officers to have transmitted the said results when the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, has not been signed into law.
They argued that Section 52 (2) of the operating Electoral Act 2010 prohibits the use of electronic voting machine in Nigeria, including the transmission of the results electronically.
In the same vein, the legal luminaries said that Section 65 of the same Electoral Act 2010 stipulates that election results shall be transmitted manually by INEC presiding officers and that this law which governed the conduct of the 2019 elections has not been repealed.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are into a fierce verbal war over the purported existence of a server where INEC allegedly stored the results of the February 23 presidential poll won by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Among the eminent lawyers, who commented on the matter yesterday, were Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Alasa Ismaila, Muktar Abanika, Dr. Kayode Ajulon, and Ismail Alahusa.
They asserted that said since the Electoral Bill which mandates the immediate transmission of voting results from polling units to collation centres has not come to effect, the so-called transmitted result is invalid and any reliance on it is null and void.
The lawyers drew attention to the 2015 INEC’s Directives, Guidelines and Manuals which provided for the use of smart card reader while Section 49 of the Electoral Act provided for the use of voter cards instead. According to them, petitioners in previous elections who placed reliance on INEC guidelines by alleging substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act because the smart card reader was not used in the accreditation process and that the election results should be set aside on the basis of the failure to use the smart card reader failed at the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, the lawyers said held for instance in Wike Ezenwo Nyesom vs Dakuku Adol Peterside and Others that INEC’s directives on the use of the smart card reader has not invalidated the use of the manual accreditation process, even if it was fraught with fraud. According to Ahamba,
‘’it is left to the tribunal to determine whether INEC actually gave orders to the presiding officers to transmit the election result electronically to the collation centre or the commission’s server or not. ‘
’The tribunal will determine precisely after it has listened to all sides and gone through all the available evidence adduced by parties to the suit. But it is trite law that if INEC gave unlawful instruction, the result so transmitted is unlawful and invalid,’’ he said. In his views, Ismaila who practices law in Katsina and Abuja said:
‘’It is immaterial whether the presiding officer was instructed to transmit the election results electronically or not. We must determine whether such was governed by the new INEC Guidelines and Manual for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. Even then at his level, he cannot claim ignorance that the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill which would have authorised it is yet to be signed to law. ‘
’The Supreme Court judgement in Edward Nkwegu Okereke vs Nweze David Umahi and Wike Ezenwo Nyesom vs Dakuku Adol Peterside and others are enough lessons not to do things outside the law. The apex court held in Wike’s case for example that the introduction of the card reader is certainly a welcome development in the electoral process.
Although it is meant to improve on the credibility of those accredited to vote so as to check the incidence of rigging, it is yet to be made part of the Electoral Act. To Abanika,‘’Section 52 (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended which is still in operation prohibits the use of electronic voting machine for the time being in Nigeria, including the transmission of the electronic results.
He said: ‘’Section 65 of the same Electoral Act 2010 that dictates that the election results shall be transmitted manually by the presiding officer, yet that law which governed the conduct of the 2019 elections has not been repealed.” The Electoral Bill which mandates the immediate transmission of voting results from polling units to collation centres is not yet operational, and as such, the transmitted result is invalid and any reliance place on it is null and void,’’ the lawyers maintained. Dr. Ajulo, who is the founder of Egalitarian Mission in Africa, said that the PDP candidate (Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) has embarked on a fruitless venture with the results he claimed he got from INEC server. Ajulo asserted that the result is not admissible in law, adding that ‘’if President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the amended Electoral Act, which included electronic transmission of results, Atiku would have had a valid case against INEC, but as it is, he cannot even tender the results at the tribunal.” A Kaduna-based lawyer, Ismail Alahusa, agreed with the submissions of Ajulo. He said that electronic transmission of result is not recognised by the Electoral Act and, therefore, the result Atiku claims he got from INEC server is “just a piece of paper.” ‘’He can’t use it at the tribunal because the law does not even recognize the transmission of result electronically. I want to believe that Atiku was not properly advised before approaching the tribunal to challenge the results of the election,” he said. But Akinwumi Adisa, a civil rights activist said that Buhari refused to sign the amended Electoral Act Bill into law because of the fraud the APC and INEC perpetrated during the election. He said: ‘’To every sane Nigerian, the last election is the worst in the history of polls in Nigeria. For every Nigerian that is seeking the good of this country, the last election was a sham and should be condemned by all. ‘’As for the result Atiku claimed he got from INEC server, even if it is not admissible in law, the whole world would be made to know the daylight robbery committed during the last election.’’ A Lagos-based lawyer, Emmanuel Majebi said: “It would not have been possible to transmit the results even if INEC had wanted to do so initially because there are areas that have no network and there are areas where the card readers did not work or were not used. “The figures Atiku brought is very bogus. The combined votes for him and Buhari is more than the total accredited voters, no other candidates got a vote, no cancellation and no voided votes, that in itself has knocked out his INEC server’s claim. I will not want to say much on the issue because it is in court but I will say the electronic transmission of election results was an ideal that wasn’t possible. “It was not backed by law. It was to be a parallel process but it didn’t work or INEC probably heard that some people had planned to compromise it and abandoned it without announcement. Transmission to the server of the number of accredited voters, does not translate to the number of votes cast! Another Lagos-based lawyer Jude Omeire said: “I believe we should not be jumping the gun and we should allow the tribunal to determine the merits and demerits of the petition and the defence. I believe that the law empowered INEC to set guidelines for the conduct of the elections but the question is, can INEC guidelines override the constitution and the Electoral Act? “It is the responsibility of the tribunal to scrutinise the submitted data, and if needs be as to its source and genuineness,” he said.Electronic Transmission Of Election Result Illegal – Lawyers — Leadership Newspaper.
Nigeria: Election Brings Dual Crises Back to the Polls: Corruption and Boko Haram | The New York Times
Muhammadu Buhari won the presidency in a historic election in Nigeria four years ago by promising to crush two scourges that had plagued the nation for years: endemic corruption and a war with Islamist extremists. Back then, Mr. Buhari, a former military general, rode a wave of voter desire to impose greater accountability on the government, end a brutal war with the extremist group Boko Haram and bring back the hundreds of female students taken as captives. Now, as Mr. Buhari is in the final throes of a bruising re-election campaign, he stands accused of falling short on all fronts. Critics say Mr. Buhari has used his antigraft mantra to crush adversaries. Boko Haram is gaining ground, launching sophisticated attacks on weary, underequipped soldiers. And many of the captive students are still missing.Full Article: Nigeria’s Election Brings Dual Crises Back to the Polls: Corruption and Boko Haram - The New York Times.
Political violence is on the rise in Malawi as the country prepares for May elections. The victims are mostly opposition party members beaten by suspected supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. However, DPP officials have denied being behind the attacks, blaming misguided youth who aim to tarnish the party’s image. In response, Malawi’s electoral commission has threatened to disqualify any candidate using violence. One opposition party member, Henderson Waya, a member of the United Transformation Movement, was attacked by a group of youths two weeks ago when he and others were driving to a party rally.Full Article: Political Violence Mars Malawi Election Run-Up.
The wheels of justice turn slowly in Nigeria. On the rare occasions when corruption cases are brought against prominent people, petitions can take years to resolve. It was therefore unusual that on January 25th President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, a mere 15 days after allegations of impropriety were lodged against the most senior judge in the country. This was the first time that Nigeria’s head of state had sacked a chief justice since 1975, when the country was under military rule. Mr Buhari’s move was not merely unusual. It was also unlawful. Nigeria’s constitution seeks to balance the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government; a power play by one part against a second needs the consent of the third. Mr Buhari did not seek support from the Senate, where he lacks the two-thirds majority needed to oust the chief justice, so his act is widely viewed as being against the law.Full Article: Nigeria’s president sacks the chief justice weeks before an election - Above the law.