The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has been slammed for adopting a fully biometric voting technology in the August 9 General Election.
As they move to switch from physical registers, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) head John Mbadi and election experts have noted anomalies in biometric voting technology.
The IEBC announced in a letter to the Azimio-One Kenya Coalition that it will substitute physical registers at voting locations throughout the country with biometric ones.
The agency also noted that it is unable to electronically transmit results outside of defined polling stations that are not serviced by a 3G network, as instructed by the Supreme Court after parliament rejected its proposals in 2017.
Members of Parliament (MP) initially planned to reject the IEBC subject to financial availability, which will install satellite devices for electronic results transmission in areas without 3G networks, another proposition that has stirred disagreement among political parties.
Conversely, experts have warned that the biometric procedure is susceptible to system malfunctions and that in some cases, the fingerprints of some voters, particularly the elderly, may fail to be recognized by the computers. Instead, they recommend using both a computerized and a physical record to authenticate voters.
Meanwhile, the IEBC claims that printed registers have been utilized in the past.
“To ensure that such misuse does not occur, and to enhance the credibility of the voting process,” said chairman Wafula Chebukati adding that, ” the commission has decided to prohibit the use of the printed register to ensure that all voters are strictly identified electronically using their captured biometric data and to eliminate the possibility of voter identification using the printed register.”
In the absence of a physical register, the IEBC proposes to equip each Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) kit with a digital register for voter identification and a QR code for voter identification in a specific polling station.
“Where voters cannot be identified electronically using their biometrics, then their biographical information (alphanumeric data) as indicated in their identification documents will be used to ascertain their identity and clear them,” Chebukati stated.
The IEBC chair further confirmed that the KIEMS kits can be used in an offline and stand-alone manner for polling station identification.
Despite conceding that the Judge Kriegler Commission prompted the deployment of the biometric system in the 2007 elections, Mbadi questioned the IEBC’s haste to implement full electronic voting without engaging stakeholders.
“Without the physical register, what will happen in the event of system failure? Will IEBC stop the whole process until the time when the kits are functional?” he posed.