Alternate Approach to Legal Independent Election Tallying

The Uganda elections are more or less over with less than 6 hours for the Uganda Electoral Commission (EC) to announce the results for the presidential elections.

Given all the time on our hands, with no social media, the team at Styx Technology Group designed the following alternative approach to independent electoral vote tallying for future elections that provides inbuilt mechanisms for audit and verification of results.

The primary data sources for the process are:

  1. Official EC list of polling stations and voters per polling station
  2. Photos of the signed election tally sheets from each polling station. To ensure that the photos are not tampered with and provide an audit trail:
    • Each photograph has to be taken with information on the camera, the GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken, date and time when the photo was taken which is available in many cameras that share it using the Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF)
    • Two separate photos of the tally sheets have to be taken by different cameras
    • The cameras taking equipment may be registered beforehand to provide validation of the source of the information
    • The signatures of the returning officers and stamp must be clear and visible in the photo

The architecture for the technology solution is as follows:

  1. Web based solution accessible via any browser. Due to poor Internet connectivity in many areas of the country, an Android app would be provided to assist in data collection, then data sent once the user gets into an area with Internet.
  2. The field officers who capture the photos would also be provided with an option of entering the candidate vote tallies.
  3. In the tallying center, candidate vote tallies are entered from the photos received and vote tallies entered by data clerks. In order to reduce errors the following approach would be used:
    • The clerks are randomly assigned photos as they come in
    • The tally for a station must be entered correctly by two separate data entry clerks, then approved by a supervisor. This process is formally called the two-pass verification method or double data entry.
  4. All correctly entered data is shared with the rest of the world for download and analysis.

This system is mission-critical having to be available for the entire vote counting period of 48 hours,  so the architecture includes the following paths for data collection:

  1.  Multiple access IP addresses and domains for the website in case some are blocked off
  2. Any data collected via the Android app can be sent via email to a dedicated tallying center address. To ensure that only data from the app is received and not changed in transit, encryption is used.

The inspiration came from a quote by Ghandi “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, disproving the myth that there is no local capability to design and implement such solutions and most of all that such solutions have to be complex.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions…

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Reblogged this on Watmon's Blog.

    Reply

  2. Can we try this during the district leaders’ elections? I strongly suggest so.

    Reply

    • Simon if you can help line up those in authority to back and fund such rapid development

      Reply

      • @Stephen: I don’t know about funding it, but I am quite certain we can put together an effort on our own. During this last exercise I obtained the list of Electoral Commission officials and whenever I heard a complaint or report I called up someone on the ground to confirm it, and then tweeted their contact number. I could have used the same to collect results, actually.

        Reply

        • @Skaheru: I agree. When are the district leaders’ elections? And in the line of putting together an effort to achieve this, can we have a project plan with highlights of the system scope, resources needed and a time line?

          @Stephen: Will the project be open source? Am thinking source code audits and system improvements over time. The system can be forked for different countries beyond Uganda — a modest contribution towards global change..
          We can look at commercial licenses with paid support as one form of raising cash once the product is out there. The other source of funding could be crowd funding or reaching out to development partners such as UNDP (the key sponsors of the 2016 presidential debates), NGOs (e.g ACME) etc

          Reply

  3. […] and transparent solution to the voting? Building up on Stephen Musoke’s suggestion of “An alternative to Legal Independent Tallying”, it is interesting to first understand how rigging is actually done, since independent tallying […]

    Reply

  4. Hellos, great this is taking shape slowly; i have added a few thoughts focusing on the bigger picture here http://wp.me/pINkY-13 Probably not for the district election but some food for thought.

    Reply

  5. Reblogged this on Simply Beautiful.

    Reply

  6. Posted by SHAILESH PATEL on December 26, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    WHAT IS YOUR EMAIL ID ADDRESS AS I WANT TO SEND AN INQUIRY TO STYK TECHNOLOGY -TREAT AS URGENT

    Reply

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