Breaking News: Jamaica's Thompson-Herah seals Olympic double with 200m gold
The electoral commission wants to procure its ballot papers locally in what it said will be 10 times cheaper than getting them from abroad.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said they are committed to reducing the cost of elections, which have been high due to procurement of ballot papers from abroad, failure by the electoral body to re-use quality polls materials from previous elections as well as legal provisions that bind the commission in terms of costs like number of polling stations.
“For the Kibra by-election, we paid Sh30 per ballot paper procured locally. When we procure from outside, we usually pay between Sh120 and Sh150 per ballot paper. But we went outside because of the trust element,” Mr Chebukati said in an interview on Citizen TV on Monday.
“If all our stakeholders can agree we do the ballot papers locally, we can reduce the cost of elections significantly. Like for the (proposed BBI) referendum, we can have a ballot paper worth Sh10 or Sh12 because it is a single Yes or No answer ballot.”
In 2017, IEBC awarded Dubai-based Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company a Sh2.5 billion tender to print ballot papers.
While he said the cost of the planned Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum cannot be as low as the Sh2 billion that ODM leader Raila Odinga has indicated, Mr Chebukati insisted that the cost of the plebiscite can be brought further down from the Sh14 billion the Commission has quoted.
“The Sh2 billion (that Raila said the BBI referendum can cost) is not tenable, but the commission is committed to reduce the cost, but not compromise on quality,” Mr Chebukati explained.
The IEBC chief said the requirement in law that no polling station has more than 700 voters is one of the factors that drive the costs of the elections.
“That is how we ended up at 40,883 polling stations in the 2017 elections. With more voters by 2022, the number of polling stations will go up. Polling stations determine the number of polling clerks. We ended up employing 350,000 people in 2017. You have to pay them,” Mr Chebukati explained.
At Sh2,400 per voter, Kenya’s 2017 election was entered as one of the most expensive in the world. In comparison, Ghana, in 2016, conducted its polls at Sh1,200 for each of her 15.7 million registered voters, while Rwanda in August 2017 conducted one of the cheapest on the continent — with less than one dollar for each of the 6.8 million voters.
At Sh47.6 billion and with only 19.6 million voters, Kenya spent almost Sh24 billion more than Tanzania, which had 23,254,485 registered voters in their 2015 poll. This, IEBC argues, has to change, and the second port of call after the use of locally-procured ballot papers is the re-use of election materials, with Kenya Integrated Election Management System (Kiems) being their biggest target.
“As a commission we want to undertake any activity that will reduce cost of elections. The Kiems kits are as good as new and as a commission we feel we can re-use them before we put them out of business, at least for the next elections, and this will substantially reduce our cost of elections. If we truly want to reduce cost of elections, then we have to discuss re-use of elections materials,” IEBC Commissioner Prof Abdi Guliye said in a TV interview.
Prof Guliye said that while most of the 45,000 Kiems kits procured for biometric voter registration, candidate registration, voter identification and results transmission system were in good shape, they had not been maintained as required. Its software had also not been updated and some had been lost due to adverse weather conditions in the commission’s regional offices.
“If we had funding, we would have serviced them regularly at a central place. We have had flooding in some of our offices and some of them have been destroyed. If we were to re-use them, we anticipate that we will have to buy 5,000 more kits,” Prof Guliye said.