Tracking of presidential ballot papers to start in Dubai

Labels on a pallet with information on the number of ballot papers inside, the serial numbers and other details in this picture taken on July 28, 2017 at Al Ghurair factory in Dubai. PHOTO | JOHN NGIRACHU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • There are 1.2 million ballot papers more, which are also more than the one per cent threshold.
  • A presiding officer would not be able to transmit results showing more voters than the number registered.


Presidential candidates’ representatives and observers will be given lists of the contents of each pallet, all the ballot papers per polling station and specific information on the departure of the papers from Dubai and their arrival in Nairobi, the electoral commission has said.

The candidates’ representatives and the media will also be present when the pallets are removed from the Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing factory and taken to the airport, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) official Roselyn Akombe said.


“We have said we are providing you with the number of ballot papers per polling station so you will be able to track and know, even for the purposes of the agents that at the factory, this is the list we were given of the number of papers for this polling station and they match,” said Ms Akombe.

IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe and Al Ghurair General Manager Lakshmanan Ganapathy the company's warehouse where packaging of presidential ballot papers is ongoing. PHOTO JOHN NGIRACHU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“We have put other measures for ballot control during polling day. The fact that the ballots are serialised is enough because it means you cannot use ballot papers in another polling station,” she added.

On Election Day, presiding officers will send information on the turn-out so far to the IEBC headquarters.

She said there are no presidential ballot papers in Nairobi as the first batch will be sent on July 31 and the second on August 1.

Ms Akombe discussed the commission’s plans as the IEBC battled to contain a storm created by assertions by Thirdway Alliance Party, Dr Ekuru Aukot’s party, from information Mr Bill Kagai, their representative in the Dubai mission.

At a crisis meeting convened by Ms Akombe and Commissioner Paul Kurgat, Mr Kagai also apologised to his colleagues for giving wrong information to his bosses in Nairobi and not seeking clarification from the IEBC and the printers.

Inside one of Al Ghurair warehouse where the final packaging of presidential ballot papers is being done in Dubai. PHOTO | JOHN NGIRACHU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

He said he had found it hard to answer questions from his bosses after the first tour of the printing plant on Thursday and it was from their interpretation of his report that they made their allegations.

On Thursday, he had been taken to task for sending to Nairobi a photograph of a sample ballot paper contrary to an agreement with the IEBC officials and the printer. The transmission of the image of the ballot paper could also qualify as an election offence.

Mr Kagai said he would need authorisation from his bosses in Nairobi to make a statement to the media on the issue but he told his colleagues: “I will ask him to make another statement and confirm that the issues raised will be addressed.”

Ms Akombe said some of the concerns raised by Dr Aukot’s party would have been answered before Mr Kagai, their representative, sent out the information to his seniors in Nairobi.

“For instance, on the issue on serialisation, we have shown that all the ballot papers are specialised and that all the ballot papers are specific to a constituency, to a polling station, that even if ballot papers landed in the same place, they cannot be used because of the way they have been serialised,” she said.


The forms on which the results will be filled, and which the agents will affirm, are also specific to polling stations and have candidates’ names and it would not be possible to use generic forms.

Ms Akombe said the issue of sealing of the pallets had been discussed and the practicality of the measures suggested.

She said the suggestion to have boxes would not work because of the time constraints. With Fridays being holy days in Dubai, there was not much that could be done ahead of the packing of the pallets for transportation to the airport ahead of the dispatch to Nairobi on July 31.

“We have technology now that you can actually be able to track the departure of a plane from one place to another unless you have an accident where you lose track of the plane. That is a mechanism political parties can use to be able to follow and track the movement of ballot papers from Dubai to the country,” said Ms Akombe.


There are 20.8 million ballot papers for the presidential election, which Ms Akombe and the printers explained is because each book from which the papers will be taken, has 50 sheets and it was not possible to print below 50.

“If for instance in one prison we have 10 voters, for packing purposes, all of them are at 50 so we are going to have ballots for that station. Instead of having 10, we are going to have 50 in one package,” said Ms Akombe.

She said when all these are combined, there are 1.2 million ballot papers more, which are also more than the one per cent threshold.
Ms Akombe said the IEBC would track the use of each ballot paper.

With the serialised papers specific to a polling station, whose registered voters are known, a presiding officer would not be able to transmit results showing more voters than the number registered.

“Our kits will not allow you to transmit a higher number than that of registered voters in that polling station,” said Ms Akombe.