Digital Voting--should PNG invest in it?

Digital Voting--should PNG invest in it?

Mauswara
Mauswara

June 29th, 2007, 12:58 am #1

Maybe we should save the hundreds of millions of Kina that public servants and politicians steal from the national coffers and invest in having digital voting in the next elections.

Something for us to consider and look at some countries that have ventured into digital/electronic voting.
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6250088.stm

Bangladesh's digital vote experiment
By John Sudworth
BBC News, Sreepur

A digital image will be taken of each and every voter

Sreepur is a pretty unremarkable town - small shops and a few garment factories in a sea of flat green farmland, an hour's drive from Dhaka.

Bangladesh is full of towns like this one. But Sreepur has found its moment in history.

It has been chosen as the place to begin a process of democratic reform so ambitious and far reaching there are unlikely to be many precedents anywhere in the world.

Bangladesh's electoral system, said to be riddled with fraud, is being completely overhauled.

The old voter list is being torn up and the photographs, fingerprints and personal details of an estimated 90 million voters are to be recorded from scratch.

Free and fair

The authorities have less than 18 months to complete the project and they are starting in Sreepur.


The chances of false voting... will be eliminated
Election commissioner M Sakhawat Hussain

When we visited the town in the suffocating heat of a Bangladeshi summer, two lines of people, one for men and one for women, were queuing outside a government building.

Inside, they were invited to sit down by young soldiers, who took their photographs and fingerprints and stored them as digital images.

A number of such centres have been set up across the district.

So far, more than 46,000 people have come to re-register as voters and claim their place in what they hope will be a fraud-free voting future.

"The new system will mean only I can cast my vote," one woman tells me.

"Whatever happened earlier," another man says, "God willing, Bangladesh will now have a real free and fair election again."

Corruption charges

In January, allegations of electoral fraud brought Bangladesh to the brink of anarchy.

Political protests brought the country to its knees

The country was paralysed by strikes and rioting, cantered on claims that the voter list was so corrupt that the forthcoming general election was a sham.

It was eventually cancelled, and a military-backed emergency government took over.

The new administration, led by former banker Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed, claims it has just one priority: to clean up politics before re-staging the general election.

More than 60 former parliamentarians, including many ex-government ministers, have been arrested on charges of corruption.

Pressure is being put on the political parties to move towards internal reform.

And the new voter list is being prepared to try to prevent the gerrymandering and ballot-rigging of the past.

Pilot project

If the Sreepur pilot project is a success, the exercise will be taken nationwide in the next few weeks.

Digital fingerprints aim to avoid fraud

The eventual aim is to prepare a national electoral register, complete with the photograph of every voter.

And, if any voter tries to register twice, in theory, the digital fingerprint images will match, and they will be stopped.

"The chances of false voting, of one gentlemen entering twice - here and somewhere else - will be eliminated," election commissioner Brig-Gen M Sakhawat Hussain says.

But the emergency government has vowed to hold the general election by the end of next year.

Is it really possible to photograph, fingerprint and register 90 million people in time?

"We hope so," says Mr Hussain.

"We are quite determined to have a free, fair election. That is our mandate. We have no other job."

But concerns have been raised about the practical obstacles in a country like Bangladesh.

Will people prove reluctant to travel to a registration centre, particularly during the monsoon rains?

Will the task of registering millions of itinerant workers, slum dwellers and homeless people prove too difficult?

The Election Commission claims the Sreepur experiment demonstrates that people are willing to participate in the registration process and that the technology works.

It needs to. Nothing less than the future of one of South Asia's biggest democracies depends on the authorities completing the task in little more than a year's time.
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fly river kunai
fly river kunai

June 29th, 2007, 1:41 am #2

In PNG all the equipment will break down in the village environment or be saboutaged, the digital election will become a chaos and that will create even a bigger mess. People getting angry at how they see others vote will see that their best way to make really big trouble is to break the equipment and spoil the voting for all.

This might work great in the cities. But I think definitely a disaster when this tehcnology brought into the rural areas where 85% of our population lives.

I can't think of a bigger mess.
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Anonymous
Anonymous

June 29th, 2007, 2:07 am #3

May be some rationality involved in discussion would be more interesting than the inherent failure mentality!

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Anonymous
Anonymous

June 29th, 2007, 3:36 am #4

Too many ideas for PNG development do not spring from within PNG as they ideally would. They come from outside.

There's nothing inherently wrong with bringing in outside ideas and implementing them in PNG. But the failure rate of outside ideas implemented in PNG is so high (resulting in a massive waste of resources over the year) that we should at least consider why outside ideas fail so often, as the foundation of any analysis. Blind acceptance and promotion of outside ideas is the worst possible strategy!

Outside ideas that ignore the realities of PNG are doomed to failure.

Realism requires that we accept our PNG weaknesses as much as our strengths, and incorportate them into our ideas and plans starting from step 1. This vetting process is most powerful and accurate if we incorporate a healthy level of cynicism. Yes, cynicism! Not to worry-any truly good outside ideas will get through any amount of cynical vetting and come out shining.

The first question in analysing this digital voting idea is to examine the whole idea of utilising high technology to solve PNG problems.

Any idea that requires imported high technology devices in PNG flies in the face of what has been most successful in rural China or India.

I strongly urge anyone who actually wants to find out what works in development for PNG to visit a country in Africa or Asia where rural people are the majority, like in PNG, yet they achieve changes in their community largely by using home-grown, home-made ideas and materials. Most so called "educated" PNGuineans will dismiss the value of looking at this simple level of technology. Yet, more and more you will come to see that the rural peoples of China and India are leaping forward amid growing wealth because they did things right, while we PNGuineans, who believe in short-cutting everything (from using imported materials to using imported ideas) end up with a growing list of failure and very little movement on the ground. High technology has played close to zero role in RURAL development in those asian tiger nations.

Using digital fingerprints as a way to verify voting addresses a very real problem in PNG- voter fraud. But is this outside idea (which hasn't even been successfully implemented in the country that the article deals with) of any relevance for PNG? Here are the areas that concern me:

1-PNG's tropical environment tends to destroy any electronic equipment not kept in constant airconditioning. Unless the equipment used for digital fingerprints has been built specifically for tropical environments (probably it has not, because the countries in which these things are made are not tropical countries), they will have a high failure rate.

2-Relying on imported technology adds to our already bad problem of too much wealth leaving the country to buy imported things. Unlike developed countries, our labour costs are relatively low. We should be utilising that low cost labour and provide jobs as the priority over bringing in yet another load of imported technology items which have created jobs for people outside PNG and sends our kina out to pay for their salaries.

3-Those who profit the most from voter fraud will be the ones who will resist the implementation of any system that introduces accountability. It is THAT aspect of idea implementation that we should be focusing our discussion more, because even the greatest ideas and technologies are repeatedly destroyed by those who don't see it in their interests. Witness the Australian assistance EDP programme. It was destroyed by Wenge, Yama, and others who saw that EDP-assisted corruption investigations were going to ultimately destroy their power. Thus, they worked to destroy the programme and they succeeded.

The last point is the most important of all to properly vetting this idea, indeed any idea that attempts to incorporate accountability into an environment that has lacked accountability for so long.

Until and unless we can solve this issue - how one can get around the Wenges, the Yamas, and all the conmen who see it in their strongest interest NOT to have voter accountability, any discussions of actual ideas becomes little more than idle chat.
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Anonymous
Anonymous

June 29th, 2007, 11:17 am #5

don't imagine of superficial stuff like Noah Musingku. Get real.
PNG Elec. Comm needs to set standards and criteria for every candidate.
Otherwise, there is no better way.

Pissed off.
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Optimist
Optimist

June 29th, 2007, 1:18 pm #6

Too many ideas for PNG development do not spring from within PNG as they ideally would. They come from outside.

There's nothing inherently wrong with bringing in outside ideas and implementing them in PNG. But the failure rate of outside ideas implemented in PNG is so high (resulting in a massive waste of resources over the year) that we should at least consider why outside ideas fail so often, as the foundation of any analysis. Blind acceptance and promotion of outside ideas is the worst possible strategy!

Outside ideas that ignore the realities of PNG are doomed to failure.

Realism requires that we accept our PNG weaknesses as much as our strengths, and incorportate them into our ideas and plans starting from step 1. This vetting process is most powerful and accurate if we incorporate a healthy level of cynicism. Yes, cynicism! Not to worry-any truly good outside ideas will get through any amount of cynical vetting and come out shining.

The first question in analysing this digital voting idea is to examine the whole idea of utilising high technology to solve PNG problems.

Any idea that requires imported high technology devices in PNG flies in the face of what has been most successful in rural China or India.

I strongly urge anyone who actually wants to find out what works in development for PNG to visit a country in Africa or Asia where rural people are the majority, like in PNG, yet they achieve changes in their community largely by using home-grown, home-made ideas and materials. Most so called "educated" PNGuineans will dismiss the value of looking at this simple level of technology. Yet, more and more you will come to see that the rural peoples of China and India are leaping forward amid growing wealth because they did things right, while we PNGuineans, who believe in short-cutting everything (from using imported materials to using imported ideas) end up with a growing list of failure and very little movement on the ground. High technology has played close to zero role in RURAL development in those asian tiger nations.

Using digital fingerprints as a way to verify voting addresses a very real problem in PNG- voter fraud. But is this outside idea (which hasn't even been successfully implemented in the country that the article deals with) of any relevance for PNG? Here are the areas that concern me:

1-PNG's tropical environment tends to destroy any electronic equipment not kept in constant airconditioning. Unless the equipment used for digital fingerprints has been built specifically for tropical environments (probably it has not, because the countries in which these things are made are not tropical countries), they will have a high failure rate.

2-Relying on imported technology adds to our already bad problem of too much wealth leaving the country to buy imported things. Unlike developed countries, our labour costs are relatively low. We should be utilising that low cost labour and provide jobs as the priority over bringing in yet another load of imported technology items which have created jobs for people outside PNG and sends our kina out to pay for their salaries.

3-Those who profit the most from voter fraud will be the ones who will resist the implementation of any system that introduces accountability. It is THAT aspect of idea implementation that we should be focusing our discussion more, because even the greatest ideas and technologies are repeatedly destroyed by those who don't see it in their interests. Witness the Australian assistance EDP programme. It was destroyed by Wenge, Yama, and others who saw that EDP-assisted corruption investigations were going to ultimately destroy their power. Thus, they worked to destroy the programme and they succeeded.

The last point is the most important of all to properly vetting this idea, indeed any idea that attempts to incorporate accountability into an environment that has lacked accountability for so long.

Until and unless we can solve this issue - how one can get around the Wenges, the Yamas, and all the conmen who see it in their strongest interest NOT to have voter accountability, any discussions of actual ideas becomes little more than idle chat.
My opinion to your pessimism:

(1-PNG's tropical environment tends to destroy any electronic equipment not kept in constant airconditioning. Unless the equipment used for digital fingerprints has been built specifically for tropical environments (probably it has not, because the countries in which these things are made are not tropical countries), they will have a high failure rate.)

*Electronic devices for voting won't be kept in the rural areas. Provincial electoral offices will be registering the voters' finger prints and everything will be hooked up with the EC h/q via a networking system. Computers/lap top devices etc. will be used to verify voters when they vote and all records transfered to the central database at the h/q. It's efficient and portable to carry a lap top/electronic voting device than thousands of ballot boxes costing millions of Kina to print, transport, strenuous counting etc.

It speeds up the voting process, automatic counting which will avoid corrupt practices in counting rooms and immediate declaration of results. It's the 21st century, let's embrace technology and move forward. We don't have to always look up to other countries and find crazy case studies in Africa and Asia. Who gives a heck about them? It's our future we are talking about!

Optimist
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Villagers get no concern............. EVER!
Villagers get no concern............. EVER!

June 29th, 2007, 2:17 pm #7

Have a heart for village peoples!their prices for basics (soap, salt) go up when the kina goes down and the kina goes down faster when we import hi cost tech!!!!!!!planti tumas blarrri tingting blo ol png kokonas lain!!!!!1!!!!
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Anonymous
Anonymous

June 29th, 2007, 7:37 pm #8

when we get elections right with effecient and effective election methods such as electronic voting than the benefits will reach png kokonas lain laik yu.
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Colonel (retired) Fortescue-Jones
Colonel (retired) Fortescue-Jones

June 30th, 2007, 5:43 pm #9

I say old chaps,
why do you fellows carry on with this "PNG is different, it won't work here.", nonsense.

PNG,s tropical environment will destroy the equipment. Balderdash! Where do you think Bangladesh is? Just west of Antarctica? The only thing differnet about PNG, is that you chappies jus are too lazy to try anything.

It appears that the black-men just cannot run their own countries. Look at India, when the East India Company ran the place, why, the railways ran ontime. Now look. The whole structure is starting to fall apart.

Look at all those African countries. That Mugabwe chap for instance. Totally incompetent. Just look at the list of self-important little dictators. Her Majesty shows how truly gracious she is, by receiving them in state. That is the British way, of course.

Now you PNG fellows. You don't know how good you had it, when we handed the rule of your country to those Colonial chaps in Australia. They made a sterling job of it. But then they had the backbone of basically British stock in them. Then they handed you fellows independence on a platter. What have you made of it I ask?


No. We whitemen got tired of shouldering the "whiteman's burden". Just like India, we grew tired of it. That Ghandi fellow was an absolute pain in the neck. Looked a right birk in that loin-cloth. Just the same in PNG, the Australians grew tired of that Somare fellow and his cohorts, agitating for independence. I see he is still ruling your country. So much for progress. I really thought it was hilarious, when the Australian authorities made him remove his shoes at the airport. A nice subtle touch, to bring him down a peg or two. I hear he was absolutely apoplectic about it. Jolly fine show you Aussies.

It has been diverting reading these Fora, with your election coming up. It should be amusing to watch. I will laugh about it over a port or two at the Club.

Toodle oo chaps.

Colonel (retired) Fortescue-Jones

Tommy to my friends and equals.
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Anonymous
Anonymous

June 30th, 2007, 6:04 pm #10

I can tell you only these facts-

Computer laptop drives always bagaring in PNG cuz of mold. Even worse with some electronics like vcr

No district offices hardly have air con-very wet inside.

Anything of value in png is stolen even when secured. Laptop computers always being stolen from waigani offices.

hami yawari would be the first to make sure these technologies would disappear once they got to SHP if he saw them as a threat to getting elected.


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