Web Portal for Management of University Elections

Most institutions of higher learning such as universities and colleges world over provide for an electioneering process where students elect their union leaders in a democratic manner. This is of great importance as it inculcates the principle of democracy into the students who are at the peak of their learning stage. Proper management therefore is called for to provide foolproof processes which can be termed as free and fair in the standards of universal democracy and employment of Information Technology is a sure wayto realize this. Online voting is the application of web based technologies to the automation of voting processes.

In online voting a voter cast their ballot from a remote terminal that is connected to the central database where actual processing of the ballot is done. Online systems have the advantage of providing convenience to the voter and reduce the time wasted in the queuing process at election centers. This paper describes a research carried out at TaitaTaveta University College, a higher learning institution in Kenya and the process undertaken to achieve development and deployment of a web based system topromote free and fair democratic electioneering process: computerizing registration, voting and tallying process involved.

The system described is in form of a portal that is embedded on the Universities website. The system was developed using the incremental prototyping due to the adaptive nature of web based applications and the system proved that a computerized solution is possible with elimination of human related faults that are a commonplace in employment of human clerks to manage the election process. Integration with SMS functionalities helped increase safety and reliability of the system.

Application of the online voting has resulted in many advantages in the efficiency of the entire electioneering process and reduced costs the university used to incur using the human clerk mechanism. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Elections form a critical process in democratic systems and application of information technologies to their management is a great milestone towards realizing effectiveness and efficiency not only in the results of the election process itself but also in the financial implications that come up with the process.

At TaitaTaveta University College, one of the public institutes of higher learning in Kenya,computerized management of student union elections was called for due to the shortcomings in the ‘human clerk ‘electioneering system. The college had an overall enrolment to the tune of 2000 students majoring in diverse disciplines of study. Student Union elections within TaitaTaveta University College had been faced by various challenges given the variations in reporting and academic year cyclesas in the lead of the list. The College had three academic year calendars i. January to August.

This lot of students report early January and break for their long holiday late August At the time of the study they were 800 in number ii. September to April This team of students had their academic year starting early September and broke off for their long vacation late April. They were at the time of the study approximately 600 in number. iii. May to December This group of students reported early may for their commencement of academic year which ends Moreover, the university had students enrolled in Diploma and Certificate Courses who followed a different academic cycle.

As a result no special date could be fixed to accommodate all the students. Moreover the traditional voting system could not be counted upon given the drawbacks in terms of collusion between the electronic officials and contestants, the queuing time, delayed results, overworked tallying officials and the undeniable fact of human errors. The existing voting system did not provide reliable statistics on voting history in the college and thus campaigners lacked the ground to apply scientific voter forecasting methods resolving to trial and error methodologies which are error prone and inconsistent.

Reinforcing a one voter one vote policy is difficult in such a situation and malpractices as rigging are not uncommon in human clerk system. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM The traditional human clerk mechanisms employed in the management of electioneering procedures atTaitaTaveta University College were not foolproof and were prone to inconsistencies, election malpractices and untimely delivery of results leading to questions at to the credibility and validity of the results the returning officer announces. Much expense was in incurred in the production, transportation, storage and destruction of the ballot papers and ballot boxes.

OBJECTIVES The project was carried with the following primary objectives i. To provide a portal via which students of TaitaTaveta University College can cast their votes online ii. To provide a system that automatically tallies cast votes for individual candidates iii. To provide a system that archives summarized reports and statistics with regard to the conduct of an election process iv. To provide management and administration of TaitaTaveta University College an easy way to manage and monitor the entire election process from a computer based interface.

v. To provide a ground for further research into this field and enrich the academia Hypothesis Web based technologies provide an avenue for conducting elections in a way that embraces principle of democracy. JUSTIFICATION In the light of the afore-stated challenges it was deemed necessary to come up with a system that addresses them and l ensure the student votes at his convenience: wherever and whenever, control paper wastage and provide credible tallying and tabulation of votes.

The system provides a solution to many problems prevalent in democratic processes and can be extended to national politics level by countries in the developing world with some modification. LITERATURE REVIEW Ballot voting is a democratic process whereby a group of individuals expresses its opinion and choice by way of casting a ballot. The ballot process involves presenting a voter with a list of choices to mark against their favorite choice. Ballot mechanism has been in existent since 139 BC [Wikipedia. 2013. ] as practiced by ancient Romans.

Indians adopted ballot mechanism at around 920 AD. Variations of the ballot mechanism comprised of scratching the names of choice candidates on pieces of broken pottery [Greece] and use of Palm leaves with names of candidates, a practice known as Kudavolai in India. United States was to employ ballot papers in 1629 to select a pastor for the Salem Church [ballotpedia. 2013. ]. With onset of technology and computers, computerized processes have been invented world over to improve efficiency and credibility of voting processes.

Two distinct approaches in computerized voting processes are electronic voting and online voting. While online voting aims to provide a web based interface via which voters can cast their votes and get results of the election process, electronic voting has to do with the registration process being carried out electronically e. g. use of biometrics and coded voter cards that that can be scanned by an electronic device to authenticate the voter. Thus, an electronic voting system may end up having human clerks tallying the votes upon termination of the election process.

Canada and Estonia are among the pioneers of online voting, CNN, Why Can’t America Vote Online, [November 8, 2011] with the town of Markham, in Ontario, having offered online ballots in local elections since 2003. David Chaum advocates for a scheme [5], whereby voters could get receipts for their votes. This receipt would allow them to verify whether their votes were included in the final tally or not, and to prove that they voted without revealing any information about how they voted. The inclusion of this improves credibility in the election process.

David Chaum [vote2012] suggests that e-voting is technologically viable with application of cryptography and security reinforcement algorithms. Matt Schultz and Tom Miller [2012] protested that database matching in online voting processes had loopholes as illegal voters managed to get registered. This is a challenge that comes when a system provides online registration and should be well addressed to ensure such incidences never occur. The duo proposes a personal identity number to uniquely identify each voter and facilitate cross checking. Their insight was therefore of great aide in the

design considerations of the system. Dr. Michael Shamos of CMU provides a sharp counterpoint [6] to Neumann and Mercuri’s views. He presents Six Commandments summary of requirements for a voting which though similar to others’ requirements, he maintains himself as less afraid of the catastrophic failures and sweeping fraud made possible by imperfections in electronic voting machines. Shamos is also much less impressed with paper ballots than are Neumann and Mercuri. He places a great deal of faith in decentralization to make fraud difficult to commit and easy to detect. V. KalaichelviandR. M.

Chandrasekaran [2] suggest online voting as a solution to curb the challenge of cheating in elections and provide a baseline for online voting system as that such a system should provide a high level of security and establish five core requirements of an electronic voting system to address issues of privacy, authentication, anonymous, uniqueness and coercion. University of Texas [A&M University] online voting system shows that web technologies can be harnessed to facilitate voting processes and one no longer needs to be physically at the Campus setting to exercise their democratic right as a student.

The system exposes a web interface via which students log in and cast their votes during the electioneering period. In Kenya, universities and colleges have to rely on the human clerk electoral processes. METHODS AND MATERIALS BASIC REQUIREMENTS ITEM| DESCRIPTION| HARDWARE| | Desktop computer| 1 GB RAM,2GHZ processor,100 GB, HDD| Printer| | Usb mouse | | Usb keyboard| | SOFTWARE| | Windows 7 | Operating system to provide the computing environment for development and testing| Dreamweaver Macromedia MX 4| HTML code editor| XAMPP server| Development and simulation server|

Microsoft Office 2007| Word processing, spreadsheets | Microsoft Visio 2010| Class diagrams, pert charts design, use case diagrams e. t. c. | FrontlineSMS| Open source SMS server by Kiwanja. net| Toad Data Modeler| Data modeling tool| SCHEDULE AND PROJECT TIMELINE CONCEPTUAL DESIGN OF THE SYSTEM USE CASE DIAGRAM SYSTEM FLOWCHART DATA DICTIONARY admin| | | | | | | | | | | | | | Field| Type| | Null| Default| Comments| MIME| username| text| | No| | | | password| text| | No| | | | candidates Field|

Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| reg_num| text| No| | | |post| text| No| | | | votes| int(11)| No| | | | electionyeare| text| No| | | | department Field| Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| id| int(11)| No| | | | dept_name| text| No| | | | abbreviation| text| No| | | | dept_chair| text| No| | | | electionyear Field| Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| year| year(4)| No| | | | flag| tinyint(1)| No| | | | voteFlag| tinyint(1)| No| | | | currentPointer| tinyint(1)| No| | | | hostel Field| Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| hostelname| text| No| | | | category| text| No| | | | id| int(11)| No| | | | description| text| No| | | |names Field| | Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| id| text| | No| | | | First| text| | No| | | | sec| text| | No| | | | posts. Field| Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| title| text|

No| | | | abbreviation| text| No| | | | spoiltvotes| int(11)| No| | | | sess Field| Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| id| int(11)| No| | | | code| varchar(100)| No| | | | user_id| varchar(100)| No| | | | students Field| Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| id| int(11)| No| | Autocrement number| | reg_num| text| No| | | | first_name| text| No| | | | last_name| text| No| | | |gender| text| No| | | | year_adm| text| No| | | | department| text| No| | | | hostel| text| No| | | | voted Field| Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| id| int(11)| No| | | | reg_num| text| No| | | | time_voted| text| No| | | | voters Field| | Type| Null| Default| Comments| MIME| reg_num| text| | No| | | | code| text| | No| | | | email| text| | No| | | | mobile| text| | No| | | | electionyear| text| | No| | | | IMPLEMENTATION The system was implemented using PHP and MySQL server technologies. The client side was done in DHTML set of technologies.

SYSTEM TESTING Objectives of the testing were i. To establish that the software worked satisfactorily as per the requirements ii. To prove that the program is error free iii. To certify that the software functioned correctly and could be used in production Testing Procedure The software testing team comprising of the lead ICT management of TaitaTaveta University College conducted both white box testing and black box testing on the system before deployment. The system was approved for deployment by the testing team having satisfied the testing objectives.

DEPLOYMENT The following steps were followed to deploy the system after testing and acceptance by the organization i. Subdomain creation A subdomain was created to host the webpages and all other files as images, the cascading style sheet files and javascript files. ii. Database importing Using the hosting account, the database file was imported from the localhost of the testing server. MAINTENANCE The system maintenance is divided into the four main sections of maintenance as will be routinely carried out in the lifecycle of the system.

Maintenance will be carried out at intervals of four months to ensure smooth running of the system. Corrective Maintenance Corrective maintenance involves those activities dedicated to fix potential bugs not initially detected and foreseen by the designers and will involve 1. Having a helpdesk assistant to assist in error report logging as will be reported by users of the students 2. A provision for notifying the development team of the error to have the error fixed 3. Testingfixesof bugs and their impacts Adaptive Maintenance Changes in the organization will impact on the system and call for maintenance activities.

Such activities that fall under adaptive maintenance are:- i. reorganizing and restructuring the database to reflect new admission criteria ii. addition of new tables in the database iii. adding new web pages that reflect added functionalities iv. integrating new technologies as biometrics in the system Perfective Maintenance This will be necessitated by the organization’s desire to improve and realize more functionality from the system and will involve tasks as i. Upgrading from a host server to another ii. Changing web hosting account Preventive Maintenance.

Periodic performance benchmarking will be done once every three months to ensure the systemcontinues to operateas expected. Such tasks will be i. Monitoring and fixation of bugs ii. Monitoring and fixing of blind and broken links OBJECTIVES ACHIEVEMENT The development and deployment of the system realized the objectives for its development as i. To provide a portal via which students of TaitaTaveta University College can cast their votes online The students of TaitaTaveta University have a safe and reliable portal through which they can cast their votes at their convenience regardless of the their location ii.

To provide a system that automatically tallies cast votes for individual candidates The tallying process is done by the system which outputs summarized data regarding a particular criterion of interests e. g. how much votes are cast for a candidate or which candidate emerged winner in specific contested post. iii. To provide a system that archives summarized reports and statistics with regard to the conduct of an election process The computerized database serves as warehouse hosting records of data pertaining election processes in the University and application of data mining principles can assist campaigners in their strategy formulation.

iv. To provide management and administration of TaitaTaveta University College an easy way to manage and monitor the entire election process from a computer based interface. The administration of TaitaTaveta can now monitor the process of election with more ease than never before in the era of human clerk system and there is a report of reduced paper wastage. RECOMMENDATION Social Institutions which have democratic processes should embrace web technologies to manage their electioneering processes as this will improve their effectiveness of rendering such processes and save them huge costs and time.

The application of web based approaches in solving electioneering processes should be applied even in managing national elections in developing countries. Moreover, with the advancement in technologies, biometric measures such as face and finger print recognition algorithms could be applied to enhance security and improve credibility of online voting systems. CONCLUSION Web based portals thus provide a great opportunity to organizations, institutions and geographical entities as counties and countries which can be harnessed to promote free and fair elections. REFERENCES i.

Kang’ethe, M Samuel, 2002, Introduction to Software Analysis and Design, Envision Publishers, Nairobi Kenya, pp. 34-40. ii. McNurlin, C Barbara & Sprague, H Ralph, Jnr, 2002, Information Systems Management in Practice, Pearson Education Publishers, University of Hawaii, pp. 34-40. iii. Interim independent Electoral Commission, 2012, Interim Independent Electoral Commission, Nairobi, viewed 29th September 2004, http://www. iiebc. org. iv. [1] T. M. Carbaugh, “Secretary of State Kevin Shelley Announces Directives To Ensure Voter Confidence in Electronic Systems,” California Secretary of State, 2003.

v. [2] D. L. Chaum, “Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms,” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 24, No. 2, 1981, pp. 84-88. vi. http://lorrie. cranor. org/pubs/voting. html vii. [3] “A Better Ballot Box? ” Rebecca Mercuri, IEEE Spectrum, Volume 39, Number 10, viii. October 2002. [7] Institute Policy Institute, “Report of the National Workshop on Internet Voting: Issues and Research Agenda,” Proceedings of the 2000 Annual National Conference on Digital Government Research, 2000, pp. 1-59.

ix. [8] A. M. Keller, A. Dechert, K. Auerbach, D. Mertz, A. Pearl, and J. L. Hall, “A PC-based Open-Source Voting Machine with an Accessible Voter-Verifiable Paper Ballot,” Proceedings of the USENIX Annual Technical Conference, U. S. A. , 2005, p. 52. x. [9] T. Kohno, A. Stubblefield, A. D. Ribin, and D. S. Wallach, “Analysis of an Electronic Voting System,” IEEE Computer Society, 2004, pp. 27-40. APPENDIXES APPENDIX A: Main portal APPENDIX B: A sample page showing summary bar graph for a concluded mock election.