Farley: EBC could not assure data security

PDP deputy leader Farley Augustine after voting on Monday in Speyside. - Photo by David Reid
PDP deputy leader Farley Augustine after voting on Monday in Speyside. - Photo by David Reid

Deputy political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots Farley Augustine said his team had serious concerns about the security of the data the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) would have obtained in its shelved pilot project in the Tobago House of Assembly election.

Just over a week ago the EBC announced its plans to try a new technology to monitor voter turnout in real time at 13 polling stations in two electoral districts.

PDP later wrote to the commission asking that the decision be reconsidered.

On Saturday the commission's CEO, Fern Narcis-Scope, hosted a live demonstration at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort to show exactly how the new system would work.

She said the system runs parallel to the traditional system and does not interfere with the manual voting process.

Speaking to the media after voting at the St John's Speyside AC school, just before noon, Augustine said, "We did not attend (the demo) because we had written to the EBC quite clearly, quite quietly as well, because we didn't necessarily want a big brouhaha over the matter...Our objection had nothing to do with the implementation of electronic aspect to the voting process.

He said, "We simply wanted to get from EBC what measures were in place to secure or safeguard data that there will be mining, because it's one thing to mine data, it's another thing to secure that data that is mined. How sure could we be that when EBC collects this data in real time, as they say, and they store it, we don't know who will have access to it. We had no assurances that our opponents would be able to have access to it.

"So while we are working manually looking at the turnout, they having it in real time electronically, and we ask these simple questions about how we plan to protect the data that you collect. EBC has not answered that question at all.

"But we have also said to the EBC that perhaps going the electronic (way),we can lead to some efficiencies. It is just not the best option to propose that mare days before the poll."

Augustine hopes there will be better consultation with all stakeholders before EBC moves forward with this plan.

"And so, I hope EBC will recalibrate and that they won't wait until four years from now when we get the general election or THA election or local government to want to implement. I hope that they will bring all parties and interested members of all stakeholders to the table and have a conversation about the way forward, because we may very well need to find ways to make the process more efficient, which will mean faster content at the end of the day. It's just that it was not the appropriate timing."


"Farley: EBC could not assure data security"

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