Confusion as EC sends voter register to Netherlands for verification

Electoral Commission (EC) has sent the national voters’ register to  the Netherlands for verification even as insiders disclosed that this was done without the knowledge of some commissioners and other stakeholders.

Concerned officials at the EC said  that the  voter register was flown to Amsterdam about two or three weeks ago to do what sources have called “duplicate analysis” with full knowledge of EC chairperson Simon Byabakama and senior officials in the IT department and data management.

According to the local publications, Daily Monitor EC asked SMARTMATIC, a foreign company, to remove multiple registrations ahead of next year’s elections.  This work has previously been done by National Identification and Registration Authority (Nira).

Without delving into the Amsterdam deal, Nira spokesperson Gilbert Kadilo said they work with EC to process data including removing duplications.

“We share with them data, we did that in 2016, we have done the same now and we are going to be doing that in future, that’s standard that we work with EC,” he said as quoted by Daily Monitor.

EC  confirmed that the data for 17,658,527 registered voters was flown out of the country as part of the process to compile, maintain, revise and update the voters’ register in fulfilment of their mandate in the Constitution.

Mr Paul Bukenya, the EC spokesperson, said EC improved technology and will be using the Biometric Voter Verification System (BVVS) in the 2021 General Election unlike in 2016 where they used the kit alone.

He also said they could not buy servers to manage the duplications and opted to use their vendor SMARTMATICS. He, however, did not disclose how much they have paid for the activity and whether political parties knew about the deal.

“One of the technologies, we are going to use is the BVVS. Part of configuring the system requires introducing the register to the BVVS system. The BVVS tender was awarded to SMARTMATICS. We have started the process of authenticating the voters to ensure that only legible voters appear on the register and that they will vote once,” Mr Bukenya said yesterday in an interview with Daily Monitor.

He added: “Part of the preparation stages is what was shared with Netherlands. The copy of the register was shared for purposes of doing what we call authenticating or de-duplicating in case. There is a duplicate on the register, it is identified and removed. We don’t have server capacity here to do that and we can’t buy the whole system for just that part which we can do with the vendor. There should be no cause for worry. Our register is here. A copy was taken for purposes of authenticating.”

Mr Bukenya, said one officer took the voters data to Amsterdam to witness the changes introduced to the register and that he returned this week and is working on a report.

Mr Bukenya said SMARTMATIC managed biometric voter verification data in the 2016 polls and that the “register cleanup” they are doing is a decision of the EC. He denied reports that some commissioners were not consulted on the matter.

“This is part of our processes of finalising the register. I can confirm that there are some processes on the register that are going on and this involves working with our vendor,”

Source: Daily Monitor

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