EVMs have paper trail, but only used when court-ordered: Mujoro

There have been many calls from opposition parties against the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in national elections however the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) Chief Electoral Officer Theo Mujoro stands his ground that the Indian-made machines are here to stay.

Mujoro made these comments at a training focused on fake news with a focus on the upcoming elections here on Friday.

For long, opposition parties have been against the use of EVMs at national polls amid claims that the devices can or have been programmed to favour a certain candidate or political party, a claim which was also dismissed by the ECN chief.

Opposition parties have also called on the ECN to introduce the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) in the upcoming elections on 27 November to limit any altering or fraud.

Responding to questions posed by Nampa during a recent engagement, Mujoro said the EVMs in its current form can produce a paper trail but this will only be utilised when ordered by a competent court.

Basically, we can print an account that clearly shows the first person that cast their vote on a particular machine, which candidate or which party they voted for. We can produce that but as for voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), we are not in a position at this time to make that available, Mujoro said.

The ECN spent over N.dollars 60 million to acquire the machines from India.

Also, Mujoro said his understanding of hacking is chancing a device remotely to gain access to it and that there is not physical altering or replacing of EVM components.

Nampa spoke to an Information technology (IT) expert who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject on Monday,

Biggest loophole of the EVMs is at the manufacturing state as the algorithm can be tampered with to ensure that for example 70 per cent of the votes go to a certain party no matter the actual votes, the expert said.

Mujoro explained that after the opposition political parties complained about the possibility for EVMs to be hacked the ECN offered to host a hacking exercise but the parties pulled out because the machines' guidelines were too restricted from carrying out any tests.

The parties were demanding that they want to be able to connect some foreign devices to the EVMs and we said 'no this is not acceptable to us'. The platform was created but the parties have pulled out from this process, Mujoro said.

Source: Namibia Press Agency