EVM 'hacking challenge' postponed

The Electoral Commission is trying to address mistrust in what has been described as 'cheating machines'.

18 July 2019 | Local News

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has postponed its scheduled “hacking challenge” of the electronic voter machines (EVMs) to allow political parties sufficient time to prepare for the session.

The initial session was planned to take place at the ECN head office in Windhoek today.

Theo Mujoro, the ECN chief electoral officer, said a majority of members of the Political Parties Liaison Committee had requested the postponement.

He said political parties had raised a number of concerns regarding the credibility and integrity of the EVMs to the ECN as well as on various other platforms.

Such concerns include allegations that the EVMs can be hacked to store results other than the choice of the voter.

Some parties have also alleged that the EVMs can be tampered with to favour a particular candidate or political party by altering the results stored in the EVMs after the polls.

Most recently, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) secretary general, Brunhilde Cornelius, in a press statement said the RDP and other “like-minded parties” were “determined to leave no stone unturned in stopping the use of the EVMs in Namibia's electoral system”.

Cornelius said the RDP would not hesitate to boycott the elections if the use of the EVMs was not stopped.

“The Namibian public was told that such method [the use of the EVMs] is efficient, reliable and faster. However, what we have observed is that the EVMs are not fair, not credible and not transparent and definitely not faster,” Cornelius said.

She described the Indian-manufactured EVMs as “cheating machines” that make no provision for a voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT).

“Swapo Party, the owner of this suspicious electoral process, rejected the EVMs to be used in their 2017 congress. Why? Because the system cannot be trusted in its way of allocating the voters' votes to the candidates and/or parties of their choice,” Cornelius said. Mujoro said the ECN took cognisance of parties' concerns as part of the ongoing consultations with them “to ensure credibility within all aspects of the electoral process”.

He said the ECN had invited nominees of registered parties to take part in the EVM hacking challenge.

Mujoro said the hacking challenge is a platform made available to the party nominees to examine randomly selected EVMs.

“The hacking challenge provides the political parties an opportunity to demonstrate claims by political parties that the EVMs could be tampered with within the existing administrative and security protocol put in place by the commission,” Mujoro said.

He said the ECN was “committed to ensuring the credibility and integrity” of the electoral process and would continue to engage political parties to ensure that new arrangements were made in this regard.



CATHERINE SASMAN

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