Do you consider yourself an IT hacker? Then the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will soon be looking for you. In November, the IEBC plans to invite hackers to try tamper with the system that it will use to transmit provisional results. According to IEBC CEO James Oswago, this will help the system attract the confidence of Kenyans ahead of the planned March 4, 2013 General Elections. “We are confident that our system is tamper-proof. However, sometime in November we will invite those who think they can hack into the system to do it. We want Kenyans to have confidence in the system,” Mr Oswago said. According to Mr Oswago, this is one of the lessons that the Commission has learnt from engagement with electoral bodies that use such systems.
Mr Oswago cited the experience of India, where the electoral body was forced to carry out such an exercise after the Supreme Court suspended use of its electronic voting system. Last year, after criticism over the integrity of its system, the Election Commission of India offered Sh1.5 million to any “ethical hacker” who would hack into the software and tamper with it. The commission has been using the Voter Verifiable Paper Trial (VVPT), a new electronic voting machine (EVM) that gives out a paper trail as proof.
Kenyans will not be voting electronically, but the IEBC plans to transmit provisional results electronically. This has already been used during various by-elections and the 2010 referendum but Mr Oswago says the system was now improved. The IEBC will also introduce a system where voters will have to verify electronically that they are registered as voters and that they have not voted elsewhere. “The purpose of introducing biometric voter registration is to ensure that we enhance the integrity of the elections and avoid cases of double registration. You will be required to use your thumbprint to prove that you are registered and you haven’t voted again,” Mr Oswago said.