Elections in Kenya have been associated with violence caused by Presidential Candidates and their followers not accepting the results. Investigations into elections results in Kenya have reported that rampart irregularities and corruption have been part and parcel of the elections. The Kriegler report for 2007 general elections, for example, revealed that it was impossible to tell whether the then President Kibaki or contender Raila Odinga won the elections.
As part of the solution to solve elections malpractices in Kenya including rigging during tallying, the report recommended for the adoption of electronic transmission of results. The 2013 elections adopted the recommendations but the elections still witnessed claims of irregularities with claims that the electronic transmission system was hacked.
The election related nightmares are entitled to end since a team of British and American researchers have developed a foolproof online voting system that cannot be hacked called Du-Vote. The technique could theoretically allow citizens to securely cast online ballots in public elections, even if their computer is infected with malicious software. The prototype is a first generation development and probably if used by the general public it will be challenging.
How the Du-Vote works
Election authorities would run a voting website containing the names of candidates, and would distribute a hardware token in this case, a pin-pad device that never connects to the Internet, to voters. The token would contain a list of secret digits associated with each candidate’s name. To vote for a particular candidate, a user would go to the website and instead of punching a button for a candidate, the voter would instead input a secret code from the Du-Vote token. Even if a hacker completely controlled a citizen’s computer and could change the name of a candidate entered on a website unbeknownst to the user, the malicious software wouldn’t know which digits to enter.
Instances where a hacker controls the token
The Du-Vote is protective against a number of cases that a hacker can be involved. The process includes a 100% hacker-proof technique. On the voting website, citizens are given two columns of random digits to choose from and asked to flip a coin, which decides which column of digits they enter into the DuVote token.
The main challenge that is likely to be experienced is how to send secured tokens to every voter given that a country has a large population, in such cases then the election institution will need a process for handling cases where people lose or misplace their tokens. Another challenge is based on faith hence you need to have to have faith that people would be willing to enter strings of numbers into both a handheld token and the online electoral website.
There are a number of countries that use online voting like Estonia. In Kenya the 2013 election were faced with many challenges despite the fact that IEBC decided to go digital. A biometric voter registration was used where the biometric features of the voters were captured including two fingerprints and the two thumbs. Electronic voter identification was used where a voter walks into a polling station, he is identified through a fingerprint reader. The deployment of this equipment and the training of staff was a big challenge and during the elections many of the machines failed. The third technology that was used was electronic transmission of results. The IEBC used all that technology but was still faced by a number of challenges including fraud. If the Du-Vote system is introduced in Kenya, then it can revolutionize the Kenyan elections.