Moving to an Electronic Voting System, a suspicious move
By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba
With technology advancements, it is an imperative requirement that our election management enjoys efficient system that should enable that election results should be announced without the wait and suspicions that characterise our elections.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) first tried to implement the electronic voting system in 1996.
The Israeli security company Nikuv International Projects (NIP), awarded to do the data migration and implement voting system, was instead, accused of implementing a rigging system and infrastructure in favour of the MMD.
The failure of implementing the system was blamed on a computer illiterate set of stakeholders.
It’s been almost 30 years later and suspicions against electronic voting system remain highly suspicious despite technology advancements and general acceptance of technology.
In Africa, todate, only Namibia has implemented a full electronic voting system in Africa.
In Zambia, election management, transmission of results and vote tallying remains highly manual.
In 2020 presidential elections, the Republicans and Donald Trump blamed Dominion Voting Systems Corporation and Florida-based Smartmatic, to be behind their loss.
They accused the two companies of being part of a conspiracy to fell Trump.
Despite credible information that the system implements data security, backed-up, tamper-proof and protected, most of the Republican leaders believe that the 2020 election was a fraud.
Biden received more than 81 million votes, while Trump received 74 million votes.
The vote for Biden was so massive that it beat that of Barack Obama’s record of 69.5 million votes from 2008 who is deemed to be one of the most popular american presidents in recent times.
The massive increase in turnout that took place especially during the pandemic was deemed suspicious. Over 158 million Americans voted, nearly 22 million more than voted in the previous Presidential election in 2016.
So far, Zambia has implemented electronic systems around voter registration and data collection but no voting machines have been installed and implemented and electronic transmission of votes has to be tallied and confirmed manually before they are announced.
President Hakainde Hichilema is accused of trying to tamper with the Republican Constitution to entrench himself and the intended amendments may result in the removal of clauses such as the presidential term, removal of 50%+1 majority vote and removal of running mate.
So this process will be shrouded in controversy and suspicions.
So the discussion that ECZ intends to migrate our voting system to the electronic platform 30 years after the first contentious rejection, will be as highly contested as before despite the stakeholders being computer literate as the issue is not about the implementation of technology but is always about lack of public trust and the true intentions of leaders.