Changes IEBC wants before the 2027 polls

IEBC clerks

IEBC clerks sort polling material at Ng’araria Secondary School in Murang’a County on January 4, 2023. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The electoral agency has proposed far-reaching reforms ahead of the 2027 General Election to enhance transparency and accountability.

In its August 9, 2022 post-election evaluation report, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) suggests a myriad of changes that should be undertaken to improve the conduct of future elections.

The report launched by former IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati on Monday recommends appointment of commissioners two years to the election, enactment and review of electoral laws and regulations 24 months before the poll, deployment of technology for use at least two years to the polls and operationalisation of the IEBC Fund.

Mr Chebukati, Prof Abdi Guliye and Mr Boya Molu, whose six-year term ended yesterday, were appointed on January 18, 2017, barely seven months to the August, 8, 2017 election.

“We had very limited time to understand the infrastructure of the election and the architecture of the commission. Additionally, the processes had been concluded and there was no time to make any major reviews or adjustments,” Mr Chebukati recalled.

In its evaluation report, the commission holds that it’s imperative to have commissioners at least two years to the poll to avoid the rush that could affect the outcome of the election.

Other recommendations include integration of voter education in schools curricula, establishment of a national research hub on elections, adoption of joint security response approach throughout the electoral cycle, operationalisation of mechanisms for special voting as well as acquisition of commission-owned headquarters.

The commission also recommends the resolution of nomination disputes 21 days to polls to facilitate ballot printing, staggering of the elections, expediting electoral related rulings (at least 28 days before the electoral activity) and installing CCTV cameras at the tallying centres.

Employment of biometric transfer of voters, review of the law to provide deadlines for effective conduct of party primaries, a review of the law to provide for time frames for submission of lists of polling agents are other recommendations.

With the exit of Mr Chebukati, Prof Guliye and Mr Molu, Deputy Senate Speaker Kathuri Murungi said that the process to recruit new commissioners is ongoing, with senators expected to attend a special sitting on the same tomorrow.

“This week, the chair of Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (has finalised the IEBC amendments Bill and on Thursday this week we’ve been recalled from our recess to come back so that we can prosecute that Bill on Thursday 19th. This Bill will detail the process through which the new commissioners will be recruited,” Mr Murungi said.

Mr Molu argued that in recruitment of new commissioners, Parliament should ensure the commission is not populated with “political stooges”.

“This is a national commission and not a place for political rewards. Political rewards should be taken elsewhere,” he said.

IEBC, in its report, proposed enhanced engagement with Parliament and Senate to fast track proposed amendments as well as enactment and review of electoral laws and regulations 24 months before the General Election.

“Any changes made after the lapse of the 24 months shall not apply to the current General Election,” the report says.

To avoid delays in signing of contracts due to litigations by vendors affected, the commission says the amount of time provided for implementation of various technology infrastructure should be at least two years before the polls.

“Funding for all election technologies and its infrastructure should be provided two years before the general election to allow for adequate time for implementation, testing and deployment of technology solutions,” the report states.

During the last election, there was suspicion by the opposition over lack of 3G network in thousands of polling stations. The Communication Authority, IEBC now proposes, should ensure 100 per cent minimum of 3G network coverage countrywide.

The commission is also rooting for the full operationalisation of the IEBC Fund, citing that delayed disbursement of funds had impeded timely implementation of key electoral activities.

The commission underscored the need for electoral law amendments to cap the period of settlement of disputes arising from nominations to at least 21 days for production, delivery and distribution of ballot papers and election declaration forms. This because, they said, the period for settlement of disputes at times delayed the process of ballot paper printing due to protracted and prolonged dispute resolution.