DA backs party online voting system amid fears of rigging

Mbali Ntuli has criticised the online voting system the DA plans to use for the election of its party leader in October. Mbali is one of the contenders for the position.
Mbali Ntuli has criticised the online voting system the DA plans to use for the election of its party leader in October. Mbali is one of the contenders for the position.
Image: SUPPLIED

The DA has come out in defence of its online voting system after its use was questioned by a contender for the position of party leader.

DA chairperson Ivan Meyer and party CEO Simon Dickinson on Friday expressed their confidence in the voting system the party will use at its congress set for October 31.

One of the leadership candidates, Mbali Ntuli, wrote to Meyer and the entire federal council last week to question the safety of the voting system.

Ntuli and Gauteng leader John Moodey are challenging interim leader John Steenhuisen for the position of party leader.

Ntuli has been the most vocal critic of the online voting system, even raising the matter in the last federal council meeting, which gave the green light for the virtual congress to go ahead.

The OPA system will not allow for any verification of who is actually voting, only that a vote took place. It is not auditable on this basis, which I am certain you recognise is highly problematic

“As I mentioned during the federal council meeting, I made representations to IT system experts who are familiar with the technicalities of the OPA voting system. The professional advice issued to me, and confirmed by Adrian Firth, the party’s director of campaign technology, was highly concerning. It confirmed there were significant flaws with the system’s security architecture.

“The OPA system will not allow for any verification of who is actually voting, only that a vote took place. It is not auditable on this basis, which I am certain you recognise is highly problematic if we intend to run a free and fair digital election system,” wrote Ntuli.

She said in an environment of coercion and fear, there could be an effort to rig the results or engage in tampering.

“It is alarming this could be achieved by simply forwarding an e-mail link, and then allowing somebody else to vote for you, or, even worse, that such e-mails could be deliberately subverted or misaddressed to achieve these ends.

“The OPA system also crucially does not allow myself or anybody from my team to be able to ensure the fidelity and impartiality of the system, that the votes that are to be cast will in fact be allocated and attributed to the correct candidate,” she said.

In a statement on Friday, the party assured that the system to be used for voting was provided by a third party whose business model was built on independence and accuracy.

It is completely against their interest to allow undue influence of any election result, including those of the DA

“It is completely against their interest to allow undue influence of any election result, including those of the DA. As with all DA internal elections, presiding officers will be appointed to oversee that our internal election process is conducted appropriately.

“Should they so wish, candidates standing for internal positions at the federal congress are welcome to appoint a party agent to observe the electoral and vote counting process in person,” reads the statement.

It said the DA had a strong record of promoting free and fair elections.

“We refute in the strongest possible terms any allegation whatsoever that the DA would, in any way, attempt to unduly influence internal election results. Decisions in relation to how internal election campaigns proceed are not taken by the candidates, but by the appropriately designated structures in the party.”

Ntuli's campaign spokesperson Samkele Mgobozi said Meyer had not given any formal reply to Ntuli about her concerns.

“She awaits his response dealing with the virtual election, including but not limited to, oversight, security and verification,” said Mgobozi.


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