Malawi’s 2019 tripartite elections and indeed other general elections before were manual punctuated with technology.
In this century, it is obviously laughable that votes should be counted with bare hands; it is time consuming, expensive and a flawed process.
The genesis of the problem is the ballot paper. Somebody has to print it in Dubai and aircargo voluminous batches of them to Malawi.
The funny thing is that the ballot paper, once counted at the polling station, its lifespan ends there.
In the aggregation of that vote in Electoral commission servers, the paper ballot mutates into an electronic one.
That begs the big question; why not just start the process with an electronic ballot, in the first place?
Are there credible electronic voting systems out there? Read on.
An Indian company, Netyan Software Solutions based in Maharashtra has one, it is called eVote. It is cloud and internet based. It is 100 percent electronic and customizable.
Registration of voters is done through SMS link sent to voters’ phones or through a website. In our case this can be done using the Electoral Commission kits with a link to Registration Bureau database.
Once the election date is established, that can be fed into the system including opening and closing time of voting. To create an electronic ballot, candidates’ names, pictures and symbols are entered and the system goes ahead to create an electronic ballot paper.
That done the system creates a website for results-viewing.
For our case, the commission would only need touch-screen kits. Voters would not even have to click but just touch the face and symbols of their desired candidates on the screen. Surely the system would check whether the voter was registered before proceeding.
By being cloud based, no data needs go through Malawi electoral servers to do aggregation of results. The thing is, all the manual processes of Mec are monitored by stakeholders except what happens inside those servers. If you have a totally independent technology company servers aggregating results, issues like a scrip deciding results are totally eliminated.
eVote is completely auditable. Should any candidate have a query, the system can display how a result was arrived at.
If polling starts at six in the morning and closes at six in the evening, the results are ready at six on the dot in the evening.
My take is that our teachers can count very well; they are human beings; they get tired and make mistakes. Computers don’t tire and are millions of times more accurate.