In a surprising but not unfathomable announcement this week, Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) confirmed that the IT infrastructure deployed during the country’s recently nullified presidential election will again be utilised in the approaching re-run on October 26. The Kenyan Supreme Court last month annulled the result of the August 8 election – which had appeared to have been won by incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta – after ruling that the electronic transmission of vote tallies was flawed. This came after a number of issues with the use of technology during the election itself, not least when an election official in charge of voting technology was killed, and followed a number of technological failures at the previous election. Yet, the IEBC plans to plough on with its use of the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) system, implemented by OT-Morpho/Safran, though it says it will also add infrastructure to ensure the integrity of the process and assimilate further experts into its IT department. An exclusive contract with mobile operator Safaricom has also been extended to support the relay of results.
Frankly, this decision beggars belief. The technology applied during the 2013 election, when Kenyatta was first elected, completely failed, with voter registrations and the like being forced to fall back on a manual system.
In August, they failed to the extent that an entire presidential election had to be declared invalid.
In spite of its adjustments, how the IEBC thinks anything can possibly be much different next time around is astounding. Such systems take years to put in place and hone to the point of being democratically accountable. A flawed system cannot become a good system in the space of a couple of months.