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Botswana mulls dropping contentious electronic voting machines

Published on 09.07.2018 at 19h21 by APA News

The Botswana government is considering not using of the contentious Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in general elections slated for October 2019, APA learnt here Monday.The issue is expected to be discussed at the All Party Conference, a consultative forum that aims to nurture democracy and promote political tolerance.

Vice President Slumber Tsogwane said this when addressing the media in the capital Gaborone. Tsogwane revealed the procurement of EVMs has not been done and that their usage would be dependent on the preparedness of the Independent Electorate Commission (IEC).

“It will also depend on the outcome of the ongoing court cases and whether there will be sufficient time to procure the machines for the next years general elections,” said Tsogwane. IEC has also expressed concern that court cases which have been launched by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Manual Workers Union are affecting their preparations for the general elections.

The opposition party and the union are challenging the introduction of the machines, saying they are unconstitutional.

Can this technology modernize how we vote?

by Kaya Yurieff @kyurieff
da CNN Tech
8 may 2018

«[…] Blockchain uses a decentralized network of computers that all work on the same task — and no one entity owns the system.

This means when a transaction is initiated between two computers, such as casting a vote, it has to be certified by another. That makes it difficult to manipulate or change the data. For the transaction to go through, a bunch of computers have to solve a complicated math problem.

But that doesn’t mean Americans will be tapping smartphones to elect officials anytime soon. Some voting security experts are wary of applying the technology to major elections.

Voters could fall prey to phishing scams, viruses and malware on their smartphones or laptops, even if a blockchain-based voting system is secure, according to David Dill, a professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford University who studies electronic voting.

“Smartphones and laptops aren’t secure, and at this point, they can’t be made secure,” he said. “People could be tricked into something that’s malicious.” […]»

Globally, 26 countries conduct elections with one form of electronic voting or the other with some even allowing internet ballots for general elections. In 2014, Namibia joined the list becoming the first African country to conduct an e-voting election. Nigeria has made moves too.

In 2017, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), unveiled a solar-powered electronic voting machine that was reportedly made in Nigeria. Ever since this announcement, Nigerians have clamoured for electronic voting in the 2019 general elections but this may be a bad idea.

Kaduna State recently made history when it pulled off Nigeria’s first electronic voting in its local government elections.

[…]

About 6000 units of the electronic voting machine were bought. Public enlightenment on the machines was done, using public demonstrations and an online video. SIECOM lost 140 of the EVMs to the recent fire in its offices. But the remaining machines are more than sufficient for the 5,101 polling units in the state.

[…]

Issues in Kaduna LG poll, electronic voting

By Leo Sobechi, (Lagos), Saxone Akhaine and Abdulganiyu Alabi, Kaduna
da The Guardian

20 May 2018

However, The Guardian learnt that the electronic voting machine (EVM) was built specifically for KADSIECOM by Chinese based SMPTECH, the same company that built the handheld PVC scanners for the 2015 Nigerian general elections. The EVMS are box like devices shaped in medium sized printers weighing 12kg.It was also gathered that the 6000 units of the EVM already procured for the local government elections has the list of 46 political parties that participated in the election.
[…]

Among the opposition parties that withdrew from the Kaduna council poll include, Social Democratic Party (SDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Labour Party (LP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), National Unity Party (NUP), among others.

Speaking at a press conference in Kaduna under the umbrella of Kaduna Coalition of Political Parties (KCPP), the chairman, Alhaji Umar Ibrahim said parties refused to participate in the polls, because the State Electoral body had decided to abandon INEC criteria for the conduct of elections in the country.

[…]