Leaked Report Exposes IEC Lies on Electronic Voting Machines Report warns that voters may vote simultaneously and others could be denied to vote
- Seeletso, team foresaw and forewarned that Batswana could reject EVM-IEC report
- IEC benchmarking team warned that using EVM could affect results credibility
- EVM procurement very steep
- Report Raises more questions over Seleetso’s public at statements
For all his persistence in his campaig for the use of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the Coordinating Consultant and former Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Secretary, Gabriel Seeletso, refuses to address concerns over their use that were raised in a 2014 Report.
While Seleetso continues to advocate for the use of EVMs as a safe alternative to the paper ballot in the 2019 General Elections, a leaked report shows that Seeletso is fully aware of some of the dangers of using the machines at the polls.
“In appreciation of the foregoing challenges and the Commissions’ commitment to improve service delivery at every election, the IEC sent a team on a benchmarking trip to Namibia which became the first country to use the machines in Africa,” a report the IEC compiled in 2014 states.
The IEC team comprised of Seeletso-then IEC secretary, “Mr. Rapoo- Chief elections officer; Ms Sesinyi S- Principal Information Education officer II and Mr Chinga F- the principal System analyst.”
While the team considered the machine “an eye-opening innovation which could be beneficial in addressing our challenges,” they were made aware of concerns currently at the centre of the national debate on EVMs, namely the need for consultation with the public prior to any legislative reform for their introduction. The Report advised that rigorous measures should be considered to prepare Batswana before the introduction of EVMs. The Report however does not make this recommendation based on the need to comply with the Constitution or internationally accepted best electoral practices but rather out of concern arising from lack of trust in the system.
The Report reveals that the fact-finding exercise by the team further placed it squarely on government to express an interest in the machines or not. It is noteworthy that the Report specifically avoids making a recommendation on the introduction of the EVM’s but records that in the event that an interest is expressed, then additional inquiries needed to be conducted. The indication in the Report that Government should make the determination on whether to introduce the technology or not, contradicts public statements made by the BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, at a BOCONGO debate a week ago, that Government acted on the instruction of the IEC.
The report warned that “should there be interest, by government to introduce such technology into the electoral process, there was need for intense stakeholder and citizen consultation on the gadget to enhance acceptance and credibility of the elections run with such technology”. In spite of the over arching requirement for consultation with the public prior to their introduction, EVMs in reality were introduced without prior consultation or referendum.
In July 2016, Eric Molale moved a Motion on urgency in Parliament for the introduction of EVMs. Speaking at the BOCONGO event, Ntuane underplayed the urgency in the introduction of the machines by acknowledging that the BDP owned the legislation but due to the public push-back , they would consult at the BDP congress this July on how to address voter concerns.
The IEC Report called for “research to be carried out to get the public views on the use of these machines.” The report notes the adverse cost of the machines and their replacement. It further advised that there ought to be a comparative study on the costs variance between new and old system: “This also has a bearing on the lifespan of the machines and the cost of replacement, maintenance, support system and storage facility.”
Sources reveal that such cost analysis was not done as the IEC only got permission from the Public Procurement & Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) in December 2016 to proceed with a direct tender. The IEC has to date refused to disclose the costs associated with the machines.
As to the real risk posed on the integrity of the elections, the IEC document shows that IEC was aware that among other concerns “Where two or more voters vote simultaneously, the beeps of the Control Units cannot be differentiated and could lead to multiple voting or even one being denied to vote.” The solution, the report suggests, could be assign different beeps to the machines for differentiation.
The IEC has been aware that “There is no paper trail” and this “could raise suspicion from candidates.” Last week the IEC secretary, Keireng Zuze told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the IEC had proposed to Cabinet that there was need for a paper trail for the EVM, which would cost an extra P66 million. There is no provision in the Electoral Act for the use of an electronic voter verification paper machine, commonly referred to as a VPAT. The Report however does not indicate whether the lack of a paper trail meets the constitutional franchise requirements and if the lack of such a paper trail violates against international best election practices.
The Report, confirms concerns raised by the opposition UDC over the lack of independence in the security of EVMs. The UDC, has stated that the only security organ currently empowered to protect the machines would be the DISS, which falls under the mandate of the office of the President. UDC has indicated that the IEC does not have the security in place to protect the machines. The Report confirms this position in that the “machine requires security measures in place to ensure the credibility of the results”.
The Report did allude to a notable advantage in the use of EVMs by indicating that they will speed up the voting process and that “there are not ballot boxes to be used, no more printing ballot papers, simple to use, may eliminate chances of spoilt or rejected ballots and that there is reduced possibilities of data manipulation and fraudulent votes”. The report, despite having been prepared in 2014 does not discuss the legal challenges that were faced on Namibia and other jurisdictions.
Seeletso in a brief interview with this publication said he needed to access the report first before fielding questions from this publication. He however said besides Namibia, they went on benchmarking trips to Brazil, South Africa among other countries to benchmark and learn about the machine.