Africa  

Audit shows no hacking of Kenya vote system

Members of Kenya’s civil society demonstrate in Nairobi on September 13, 2017 to demand the removal and arrest of members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) accused of criminal interference with the process of Kenya’s presidential election. The August 8 poll, which saw President Uhuru Kenyatta reelected, was annulled by Kenya’s Supreme Court earlier this month on grounds of “irregularities and illegalities”, notably in the transmission of election results./ AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA

An audit of the electronic system used to tally votes in Kenya’s cancelled presidential poll showed no manipulation of data, the French biometrics firm that supplied the system told AFP Friday.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has accused the company, OT-Morpho, of being complicit in alleged rigging of the election, which was declared null and void by the country’s Supreme Court due to “irregularities and illegalities” in the transmission of results.

While the court has yet to deliver its final judgement detailing what went wrong, OT-Morpho said an “in-depth audit” of the system showed the opposition’s claims about hacking to be untrue.

In a letter to the French government, Odinga accused OT-Morpho of allowing unauthorised access to its servers and manipulating the transmission of results.

The company’s chief operating officer Frederic Beylier told AFP the audit, undertaken with help from external experts from security software companies, had shown the system “in no way suffered manipulation of data, attacks, attempts to penetrate the system or anything of that kind.”

OT-Morpho supplied the 45,000 tablets used to identify voters biometrically and an associated system used to transmit the results of votes counted by electoral officials as well as a photograph of the paper form 34A on which votes were tallied.

Delays in the scanning of these forms — which OT-Morpho put down to lack of 3G coverage in some parts of Kenya — were among the problems raised by the opposition.

The opposition had also claimed an algorithm was introduced into the system to manipulate the results as they streamed in.

“We obviously checked if there could have been questionable manipulations by any authorised or unauthorised persons and can confirm there was no manipulation of data that could raise questions,” said Beylier.

The company said it had transmitted all its logs to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, and was willing to participate in another external audit under the IEBC’s authority.

In court, the opposition argued that many forms 34A, once received, were unsigned, lacked the requisite security features or contained irregularities.

However without the full ruling from the court, it is unclear to what extent this influenced the outcome of the election.

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was ascribed 54 percent of the vote before being stripped of his victory.

It also remains unclear whether the results could have been manipulated before being entered into the electronic transmissions system, analysts said.

Beylier slammed a campaign of threats and intimidation against the company and its employees, insisting it had carried out its job in “complete political neutrality”.

“Some people are trying to make us the scapegoat of the political situation in Kenya and we don’t intend to play that role,” he said.

He referred questions on whether the company’s systems would be used in fresh elections planned for October 17 to the IEBC.



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