ODM goes digital as its primaries kick off in Kwale, Taveta

The voting is being done electronically, where once a voter identifies their name manually on a registration list, they head to a tablet.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has embraced technology for party nominations that kicked off in Kwale County on Monday.

In a complete departure from the past, the voting is being done electronically, where once a voter identifies their name manually on a registration list, they head to a tablet.

Here, a voter keys in their ID number and proceeds to vote. The tablet then displays the names and photos of MCA aspirants from whom a voter is expected to select.

In the next step, the tablet displays the names of the MP aspirants and their photos. Once the voter clicks on the photo they submit the data.

Voters lauded the seamless digital voting tablets.

"I barely used five minutes to vote because all I had to do was to enter my ID number and click on the aspirant that I was voting for and whose photo was displayed," said Ali Mwalimu, a voter who is visually impaired.

ODM nominations underway in Kwale, Taita Taveta

The polls took place in Msambweni despite delays in opening some tallying centres.

Voting started at 8am instead of 6am while others experienced a further delay due to technical hitches.

The polls are taking place at over 15 centres in Kwale County for ward reps and the Msambweni parliamentary seat.

The aspirants for the Msambweni seat are Sharlet Akinyi Onyango, Sheehe Mahmoud Abdulrahman, Charles Bilali, Ali Hassan Mwakilonda and Bashiri Mohammed Kilalo.

A voter is shown how to pick an aspirant on a tablet at Mwakigwena Primary School polling station in Ukunda Ward during the ODM Primaries on April 4, 2022. 

Photo credit: Siago Cece I Nation Media Group

Primaries are also taking place in five wards for members of the county assembly in Matuga and Msambweni constituencies, including Ukunda, Tsimba-Golini, Gombato-Bongwe, Pongwe-Kikoneni and Tiwi.

Kwale ODM secretary-general James Nyakiti said primaries would not take place for the Lungalunga, Matuga and Kinango parliamentary seats, after aspirants came to a consensus.

"We spoke to all the aspirants and after they agreed, we gave them direct tickets," he said.

He explained that delays at some polling stations happened because clerks reported late.

“No aspirant should be worried that this could be a plan to rig votes," he said.

At the Mvindeni Primary School polling station, there were hitches when only one candidate’s name appeared in the system. In Tiwi, voting was also delayed because candidates’ names were missing from the register.

"But we have already notified the returning officer in Kwale and he has promised to deal with it as soon as possible. Meanwhile, voting was paused in that polling station for hours. We are certain by 11am things will be moving seamlessly," Mr Nyakiti said.

He added that the time wasted will be recovered.

This comes as locals complained about delays in opening polling stations.

Bakari Ramadhan said that polling stations should have opened early enough to allow more people to vote and return to their daily duties.

Ukunda ODM chairperson Abdalla Chireya said they were hoping to complete the voting by 5pm before tallying begins in Msambweni.

For the Kwale governor’s seat, the party had already assured Prof Hamadi Boga of a direct ticket. The senator ticket was given to Issa Boy while the woman representative one went to Fatuma Masito.

In the parliamentary tickets, the Kinango one went to Zuleikha Hassan, Matuga to Hassan Mwanyoha and Lungalunga to Marabu Chaka.

ODM party members vote Mbololo polling station in Taita Taveta County during the party's nominations on April 4, 2022.

Photo credit: Brian Wachira I Nation Media Group

In Taita Taveta, the nominations started at 7am in Mwatate and Mbololo wards and were conducted electronically to minimise irregularities. 

The party's National Election Board secretary Abdullahi Diriye said no hitches had been reported.

The official stated that only ODM members would take part. 

"We have had cases where some people who are not registered with our party have been turned away. We are doing so to ensure only party members vote," said Mr Diriye.

Some of the aspirants complained about the rescheduling of the voting.

One of them, Zablon Mwanyumba who is vying for Mbololo MCA, said voters had prepared to vote on Tuesday. 

"We had mobilised our supporters for Tuesday. We are, however, calling on them to turn up for the voting," he said.

Reporting by Siago Cece, Anthony Kitimo and Lucy Mkanyika