1,133 is not just a number

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Raila: How IEBC set up its systems to fail

19 August 2017 - 13:08

Glaring loopholes opened Kenya’s elections tallying and transmission system to external fiddling and polluted the result of the presidential race, a petition in the Supreme Court says.

The loopholes were either deliberate or negligently left in the system but nevertheless distorted the election results announced on August 11, 2017, according to court papers filed by Mr Raila Odinga and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, who contested the presidency on a National Super Alliance ticket in the August 7 elections.

The petition names the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission as the first respondent, its chairman Wafula Chebukati as the second, and President Uhuru Kenyatta as the third.

In the [number]-page petition filed at the Supreme Court registry in Nairobi, Mr Odinga argues that although transmission of results from the election counting and tallying was designed to simultaneously send images of statutory forms from every polling station together with the counts, only numbers were relayed in many instances.

“I saw Form 34As being scanned at the Bomas of Kenya national tallying centre,” says Dr Nyangasi Oduwo in an affidavit sworn in support of the petition.

“The IEBC deliberately or negligently failed to electronically transmit results from polling stations and the constituency tallying centres together with the prescribed forms,” Mr Odinga says in his own affidavit, “and thereby opened the collation and tallying process to manipulation and unlawful influence.”

Since each polling station had a unique identifier with a code that linked it to the result transmission system, Mr Odinga has asked the court to order a system audit to verify the unique code used for each of the 40,000 plus polling stations, the time, place and the person who transmitted the results.

At the time of announcing the presidential election result, only 29,000 Form 34As -- used to record results at the polling station -- had been received, according to another supporting affidavit by Prof Charles Kaloki. The petition argues that Mr Chebukati’s announcement of results on the basis of county rather than constituency tallies broke the law.

Documents for some 11,000 polling stations were missing when the IEBC chairman declared the results for the presidential race, a figure equivalent to the number of polling stations said to be outside the 3G and 4G network coverage.

Two days to the elections, the IEBC had revealed that 11,000 polling stations did not have 3G and 4G network coverage, and could not transmit electronic results as soon as they were announced. Prof Kaloki says the claim was misleading since results in a county like Nairobi continued to be delivered physically for many polling stations in spite of not being listed among the 11,000 polling stations outside network reach.

He argues that the six-day window allowed by the IEBC for Form 34Bs to be submitted after the declaration of results lends itself to addition, multiplication and subtraction contrary to the constitution and the law. Prof Kaloki, Nasa’s technology expert, adds that it could not be established whether or not the results forms received by the IEBC were genuine. A review of the results as declared on the basis of polling station and constituency tallying centre forms revealed “substantial, systemic, glaring, qualitative anomalies” that question the credibility of the presidential election, according to the petition.

Mr Odinga argues that exempting the 11,000 polling stations not served by 3G or 4G network from the standard procedures for results transmission jeopardised the scrutiny of over 7 million votes.

Results declared by IEBC, according to the petition, varied substantially from the actual ones tallied and declared at the gazetted polling stations. “Having reviewed and reconciled the Forms 34A and B supplied to us by the [IEBC] and against those obtained from our agents, we have discovered that the results declared have massive numerical discrepancies that fundamentally affected the final result to our disadvantage,” Mr Odinga adds.

Mr Odinga also lists a chronology of events, steps and missteps in an attempt to demonstrate that the electoral commission sabotaged what has been touted as a tamper-proof electronic results transmission system.

Despite written assurances that the IEBC was doing everything possible to secure its information system, the commission wrote to the Communications Authority of Kenya on June 29, 2017, proposing to use a private cloud to supplement its primary and disaster recovery sites. CAK advised against hosting IEBC’s sensitive data on a private third party cloud that may compromise the security of its systems and data, recommending instead that the cloud service be hosted within Kenya’s borders so that any issues arising from any cyber incident or crime could be handled under the country’s laws.

A July 5, 2017 letter by IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba to OT Morpho SAS (France) approved a proposal to use the NTT Cloud based platform as a risk management measure owing to alleged delays in the arrival of the newly acquired primary and secondary data centre infrastructure.

These compromises, argues Mr Odinga, are not a coincidence but rather the result of IEBC’s wilful negligence with suspicious intent.

“Finally, barely a week to the elections, the First Respondent’s key ICT manager in charge of the management of the integrated electronic electoral system was murdered in cold blood in a clear attempt to further weaken the electronic electoral system,” says Mr Odinga in the petition, in reference to Chris Musando who was murdered days to the election and will be buried at his home in Siaya today.

The petition also accuses Mr Kenyatta, acting in concert with cabinet secretaries and other public officers, of abusing their positions in public office to unduly influence potential voters and exert improper influence on them.

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Never shall we descend to the 1970 and 80s again!