With elections just around the corner, the debate on whether the country can have a credible electoral process has gained traction. It is unfortunate that in the past, uncertainty has characterized Kenya’s election cycle, sometimes culminating in violence, which negatively affects the lives and businesses of many people.
JKUAT Alumnus Keith Martin and a team of software engineers, data scientists, and lawyers won a recent hackathon dubbed Africa Law Tech Festival 2022 that took place on 2nd–3rd June 2022 having combined blockchain and artificial intelligence to create a novel solution that can improve the integrity of the election process. The cadre clinched the top position out of the thirteen teams present at the Hackathon.
Keith, who graduated in April 2021, having completed a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), led the team in the hackathon whose theme was “streamlining the election process.” The annual hackathon that took place at the Sarit Centre, seeks to bring together technology and law. The event was organized by IndabaX, Deep learning, Africa Law Tech, and Lawyers Hub. It took about 20 hours for the team to build the system, from ideation to actualization.
The solution Keith’s team came up with comprised the use of blockchain and artificial intelligence to improve the integrity of the voting process, with more focus on changing the manual process of counting the votes. The team illuminated the fact that there is a loophole in the current electoral process whereby rigging is feasible because stuffing of ballot boxes can be so easy.
To avoid this, they resolved that with the use of artificial intelligence, a more digital solution using computer vision, the ballot papers can be scanned to identify the candidate that was voted for. The AI system then sends results to a blockchain system where the data about the votes is sent to a dashboard where the results are displayed in real-time. This technology can very well improve the integrity of elections since it ensures transparency and prevents the results from being tampered with by any party or candidates.
“I am glad to have led the winning team at the Law Tech Africa Hackathon 2022 event that took place on the 2nd and 3rd of June. This system seeks to streamline and create safeguards against human error in the electoral vote counting process,” said Keith Martin. “We are currently working on patenting the technology and also getting partners to bring this idea to a reality.”
Having created the system in one day and for it to have such a huge potential, Keith and his associates are currently looking for partners to help them launch this system. From patenting the technology to approaching the Electoral commission, Keith is positive that with this system they will change the narrative, thus providing a free and fair election, affecting not only our country, but Kenya will become an example of democracy in the world. They will also present this solution in Tunisia during the Deep Learning IndabaX 2022 annual event.
Since Graduating Keith Martin has been privileged to work with Dukaree Innovation Limited as a Data Analyst and is currently based at AICE Africa where he is a Data Scientist. Keith’s piece of advice to students and young professionals is that concise specialization is key. “Most IT students don’t know where their strengths lie. I would advise them to decide which of the key areas interests them more, be it programming, blockchains, forensics, cloud computing, cyber security etc. Once you concentrate and specialize in one sector, the sky becomes the limit,” he concluded.
Even as we look forward to a day where innovations such as this will improve the confidence we have in our electoral bodies; we must advocate for peace. Our advice, let us all be vigilant in the defense of our democratic rights. Vote consciously to secure the future of this country. Choose the right leader and desist from being used as a tool of violence against each other or as an agent of hate through social media. Preach peace and influence positive change for Kenya.