The civil society has sued the electoral agency over its plan to use the electronic system of identifying voters in the August 9 General Election, arguing that the polls could be postponed should technology fail.
Seven lobbies told the High Court in Nairobi Wednesday that abandoning the physical register could also be disastrous as many Kenyans would be disenfranchised if the system fails at polling stations.
For the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (Kiems) kits to function, there must be reliable and stable internet connectivity. On June 8, the commission said more than 260 stations lack 3G connectivity.
In a suit filed at the Constitutional and Human Rights Division in Milimani, the groups argue that the decision of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) would likely affect many voters. They accused the polls agency of setting itself up for failure.
Susceptible to massive failure
“The decision to strictly rely on Kiems as the only mode of voter identification is a violation of statutes and is susceptible to massive failure, which can lead to ultimate postponement of the elections,” Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the other groups argue.
Others are Katiba Institute, Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists-Kenya, Haki Yetu, Inuka Kenya ni Sisi Ltd, Africa Centre for Open Governance and Constitution and the Reform Education Consortium.
They argue that the decision is in violation of Section 44A of the Elections Act, which provides for provision of a complementary system of voter identification. They hold that voting is a right for all and that IEBC has a duty to facilitate and not deny any eligible citizen the right to vote.
They argue that the only way to ensure all registered voters who intend to vote do so, is by using a manual register. The groups also claim that IEBC is yet to publish the register of voters and preload the same on the Kiems kits through the data registration database.
Identify voter’s bio data
Kiems kits are used to identify a voter’s bio data at the polling station using either the fingerprint or the alphanumeric search. The lobbies say IEBC’s decision to abandon physical voter register is bad in law it’s facing the same technological and network problems that it had in 2013 and 2017.
Polling clerks at the time resorted to identify voters using the manual register after some kits failed to work.
Mr Chebukati has said that the commission’s decision to work with the electronic register was based on the findings of the post-election evaluation report for the 2017 General Election. It was established that the use of the physical register provided an avenue for misuse during the voting process.
When IEBC invited members of the public and election stakeholders at Bomas of Kenya on June 3 for a simulation of the technology to be used in the elections, the demonstration failed.
The commission admitted that there was technological failure.