Kampala, 16th/09/2020: Unwanted Witness today joins the rest of the world in marking the International Identity Day in recognition of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” and objective 9 which calls for legal identity for all.
With an official identity, Ugandans can exercise their rights and access important public services such as, voting among others. Achieving this goal requires the record of important events in a person’s life such as voter registration, which is a core part of a free and fair electoral process.
As we head towards the 2021 general elections, it’s critical to assess the important role digital identity plays in empowering individuals to exercise their rights and responsibilities fairly and equitably in the entire electoral process at different points of voter verification, validation and authentication.
In 2016, the Electoral Commission (EC) incorporated technology in the electronic transmission of electoral results, the Biometric Voter Verification System (BVVS), and the National Voters Register verification and validation which is done against the National Information Register (NIR).
We believe that without a transparent and accountable report scrutinized by all stakeholders on the authenticity of the automated voters’ register, the 2021 elections risk being out rightly rejected by those defeated as not being free and fair on the basis of “ghost voters.”
The National Voters’ Register as a functional identity system should be cleaned to clearly show the number of new voters, deceased, left the country or denounced citizenship barked up by an audit report.
“Digital electoral fraud can occur in advance if alterations in the composition of the electorates’ personal data is not well correlated with that in the National Information Register as a foundational identity system. Even though biometric technology is advanced by governments as a form of identity verification, it cannot independently prevent multiple registration if the data is not audited to prevent duplication” said Dorothy Mukasa, the Executive Director of Unwanted Witness.
“Although digital technology goes a long way in reducing electoral expenditure and fraud, if not used or implemented in a transparent manner, it’s bound to affect the integrity of the entire electoral process” added Dorothy Mukasa
Protecting the computer-based hardware and software before and after vote casting is essential for election integrity because all of these technologies are vulnerable to digital attacks relying on personal data manipulation which may be virtually undetectable, by election staff or observers without specialist training
As we head towards the 2021 general elections the Electoral Commission (EC), the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance should ensure that any regulatory response must be as dynamic as the technological mischief it seeks to contain.
Unwanted Witness therefore implores the Electoral Commission (EC), the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance to ensure the following:
The resiliency of the electoral infrastructure and results will depend on the efficiency of the technical systems in e-voting complying with the principles of democratic elections and referendums as well as ensuring that human beings involved in all parts of the e-electoral ecosystem are trained in cyber security and user best practices.
About Unwanted Witness
The Unwanted Witness is a civil society organization (CSO) that was established to respond to the gap in effective communication using various online expression platforms. Unwanted Witness envisions the highest standards in protecting and promotion of digital rights in Uganda.