I have watched for the past 3 weeks, as the Opposition Coalition, has tried in vain to challenge the NEC's conduct of the election. The reason they are failing so miserably is they have approached this as a legal issue, with no forensic/technical basis. We see a room full of esteemed lawyers arguing and peacocking about "the law." Each determined to show how much law he knows. We get it already. You are experts at law.
However, these esteemed lawyers are totally ignorant of the forensics which could strengthen their case.
The NEC made the voter rolls available to parties on a USB drive. Those voter rolls were in PDF format. Yes, the NEC provided a list of 2 million voters on paper, for the political parties!!!
This is strike one. Did the NEC deliberately provide the voter rolls on paper to make the voter rolls inscrutable? It is not possible to query such a list in any reasonable period of time. Why not an Excel spreadsheet? But what you don't know, you don't know.
Be that as it may, there are technology tools, which will allow you to take a report in pdf and convert it back to a database.
A Liberian technology expert performed this task and shared his results with me. On their face, they point to an astounding level of technical incompetence, that seems almost criminal. It is one of those things when you see, and your professional, yes professional opinion is "no person can be this stupid."
There were more than 15,000 (fifteen thousand) duplicate voter IDs. There were more than 100 persons age 105 - 215. The latter is a data entry quality control issue. The former, however, points to the incompetence mentioned above.
A fundamental concept of Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) is the idea every row (record) must have a unique identifier. This unique identifier can only occur once in a table, hence the word "unique". There are two ways to do this, which allows the system to enforce these constraints:
a) make the specific column the primary key
b) add a "unique constraint" to the column
That column for the voter registration database should be the VoterID number. Again, because each voter must have a unique voter ID number, the database design must have designated the VoterID column as the "primary key" or placed a "unique constraint" on the column, if a different primary key was used.
The fact there were 15,000 duplicate voterID's in the file, suggests neither of these fundamental architectural/design constraints were put in. Let me be clear, if you registered for "Introduction to Databases" and dropped the class after 2 weeks, you would have learned about "primary keys."
In light of this apparently fatal technical flaw, the litigants should have then demanded:
1) the NEC freeze the database (by making a certified copy and removing that copy from the premises.)
2) a copy of the database be given to the litigants for inspection.
This would have allowed the litigants to actually query the database and note all of its design/data flaws.
Also important is whether or not the NEC built an "Audit Trail" into the database. For high-security databases, it is necessary to record and track all changes made to the data, capture who made the change, and the date and time it was made. For example, if someone changes the data in a middle name column from "K" to "Karmoh" that change is automatically recorded in a separate table. This allows for secure monitoring of changes to the data. The absence of an audit trail means the NEC has no reliable mechanism to tell which changes were made, by whom, and when.
Back to the absence of primary keys and/or unique constraint of the VoterID. The design/architecture flaw here is so severe, it is impossible to believe there are not even more serious flaws in the database. It is also impossible to know for certain, without an inspection of a copy of the actual database.
How, if at all, did the NEC correct the problem of 15,000 duplicate voter IDs? Is there an audit trail which shows how the correction was handled?
I can understand all of this technology mumbo-jumbo, is confusing to the lawyers and layman alike. However, that the lawyers did not have database experts to challenge the NEC over these questions, is where I believe their case was doomed.
Sometimes you have to get out of your own way.