September 25th 2017

Top Stories / National

KPMG audit, EVID kits fault open Raila team's eyes to possible rigging tactics

The IEBC has informed the Elections Technology Advisory Committee (ETAC) that it will split the voters register into 13 regions, apparently because the EVID kits it has acquired from Safran have no capacity to carry the entire register.

By Julliet Mwihakijmwihaki@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 13 Jun 2017 09:39 EAT

NASA principles with IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and other commissioners during a joint meeting in the past.

Politicians and information system experts have commended KPMG for undertaking the first audit of Kenya’s Voters' Register in a professional manner and within the shortest possible time. The auditors' report tabled last week has revealed serious flaws in the register including substantial cases of double registration and the prevalence of dead voters on the roll.

The audit, which was contracted to KPMG by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission under Section 8A of Election Laws (Amendment) Act No. 36 of 2016, required the audits to: a) Verify accuracy of the voter register; b) Recommend mechanisms of enhancing the accuracy of the Register; and c) Update the Register.

Immediately upon being contracted, KPMG East Africa Senior Partner and Chief Executive Josphat Mwaura appointed a high powered team of expert auditors from the group who have extensive experience in risk and information system audits. The team leader was Gerald Kasimu, KPMG EA's head of Information Technology Advisory Services.

An experienced expert at the firm who had only recently returned from South Africa, Mr Kasimu is reputed for his integrity. The other leader in the audit who also played a key role in the process is Brian De Souza, who is also highly respected within KPMG ranks.

According to sources at the electoral commission and other experts brief on the process, KPMG exercised a high degree of professionalism and employed methodical approaches that enabled them to get the results they required. The auditors began by reviewing the legal framework governing voter registration, documenting the systems and processes used as well as verifying the authenticity of data including names, dates of birth and ID or passport numbers.

They used an analytic tool called IDEA that only KPMG has in this region in comparing data sets by manipulating selected keys. The tool is quite fast and generates a report in real time. In the case of IEBC register KPMG took the 2013 Voters Register and the the preliminary register of 2017 including additional registered voters, and compared it against the register of persons (data on IDs), registrar of births and deaths and registrar of passports.

Using the software, KPMG also verified the biometric data to identify instances of double registration, deaths, fraudulent registration and errors. They have tabled their report which shows serious flaws in the register. There were 12,673 voters for which gender and date of birth do not match. The date of birth does not match in 785,871 voters. There were inconsistencies in gender for 259,824 voters.

Inconsistencies in name and other permutation of particulars affected 1,841,721 voters. The number of people with duplicated, missing or invalid ID or passport number is 264,242 voters while in number of dead people is 1,037,260 votes. In total, 2.9 million voters are inaccurantely registered on the roll. Further, KPMG discovered that while 25,212,055 adult Kenyans are eligible to register as voters, nearly a third of them are not registered.

Before it embarked on the exercise KPMG met with the representatives of political parties, religious groups and civic society in order to build confidence about its work. While its report has been welcomed, the audit does not insulate the election from rigging and has only opened the eyes of concerned parties to the potential for fraud at both the balloting and counting levels.

This is because: a). IEBC has no mechanism of determining exactly how many voters will be dead by Election Day. While the commission is currently culling out the dead voters identified by KPMG, according to its spokesman Andrew Limo, it has neither the capacity nor the time to exhaust their removal.

This is partly because the registration of deaths is an inefficient process, and the data that KPMG relied on was not exhaustive. Nairobi governor Evans Kidero says that about 300,000 voters have died in Nairobi alone since the start of voter registration in 2012.

While the results transmission is supposed to be electronic, the voting process is fully manual, with voters handed ballot papers by clerks after the confirmation of their registration status. Unscrupulous electoral officials can collude with political candidates to rig the process by awarding voters more than one set of ballot papers.

As the officer would need to know is the estimated turnout of live voters, which can be extrapolated from IEBC data from the 2013 elections and records from the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya. The officer would then hand over just enough extra ballot materials to keep the turnout at a reasonable percentage.

Last November, Jubilee forced through parliament several amendments to the Election Laws (Amendment) Act that require voters whose details are not on the biometric registration kits to vote from a manual "back-up" register. This means that, at the end of voting, the BVR kits will capture only the number of voters whose details were confirmed by it but not how many people actually voted.

It would fall onto election officials to compute the actual number of voters per polling stations by summing the BVR statistics and the manual back-up, a process that would take place immediately after the election. 

In marginal areas where turnout is historically low, or in regions dominated by a strong party that can influence events, such loopholes can provide fertile ground for rigging. Political party agents can also be overwhelmed from observing the voting process in detail if many voters are allowed in the balloting area simultanously, something election officers do all the time to help save voters' time.

The IEBC has informed the Elections Technology Advisory Committee (ETAC) that it will split the voters register into 13 regions, apparently because the EVID kits it has acquired from Safran have no capacity to carry the entire register.

According to a source from the ETAC hearings, IEBC has failed to explain why it chose to split the database into 13 regions, some with overlapping jurisdictions, instead of a logical sequence of say, each county having its register deposited in all the EVID kits to be used in that region.

A source who has interacted with the commission informed this website that Safran consultants retained by IEBC have confirmed to them that the kits could accommodate data from each county, the highest of which is Nairobi. However, at the moment, NASA representatives at ETAC have not followed up on the matter.

Information consultancy experts have praised KPMG, which has been led by Mr Mwaura for several years, for its professionalism, with many holding the view that only the company could undertake the job under task under the deadlines and with utmost integrity. The other firm with the capacity for the task would be Ernst & Young, which has the ACL data extraction tool.

"Other international audit firms in Nairobi have been considerably infiltrated by political elements or have not invested in the systems required to undertake complex tasks," said an IT specialist who followed the audit closely. The source said KPMG inspired confidence among all those involved by keeping them informed at different stages of the work and presenting its findings transparently.

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