Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga yesterday listed nine key issues that the electoral agency must address to improve public confidence ahead of the August 9 General Election.
In his submission to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) at the Bomas of Kenya moments after he was cleared to run, Mr Odinga called for a free, fair and credible election.
Dubbed Azimio la Uchaguzi Mwema, he identified electronic identification of voters and transmission of results, integrity of the voters’ register, audit of the register, proposal to amend the Elections (General) Regulations, recruitment of returning officers and printing of ballot papers.
Others are Smartmatic elections technology contract and a status of compliance concerning the statutory timelines set out in the revised Elections Operations Plan released by the commission on January 17.
The Azimio flagbearer sought to know whether the commission haddeveloped constitutionally compliant protocols for the results transmission path from the polling station to the national tallying centre.
“What measures has the commission put in place to ensure that the provisions of Section 39(1C) of the Elections Act, regarding electronic transmission of results and the publishing of polling result forms on an online public portal, are complied with? What is the status of the supply, delivery, installation, upgrade, testing and simulation of servers of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system?” he posed.
The ODM leader questioned the administrative arrangements the commission has put in place to ensure all eligible citizens exercise their constitutional right to vote in the event of technical problems and that ineligible individuals do not vote.
Mr Odinga challenged IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati to explain the status of the voter registration exercise on a county by county and constituency by constituency basis.
“Did the commission take measures to ensure the register is in compliance with Section 31 of the Data Protection Act, 2019? There are numerous reports by voters who cannot find their data in the register. What is the cause of such a large number of complaints and what is the commission doing to address this concerns before the elections?” he posed.
He challenged the commission to make public the results of its investigations regarding the irregular transfer of voters and state the number of voters affected as well as the polling stations. He also sought to establish whether the issue of dead voters in the register had been addressed.
“There have been reports that the number of voters in some counties has suspiciously grown by up to a million without rational explanation or correlation to population data.” He urged IEBC to provide assurance that it would “thoroughly and transparently” investigate the said reports.
Mr Odinga’s concerns come barely two weeks after Deputy President William Ruto also raised six key issues he wants the commission to address to restore public confidence in elections. The DP also raised concerns over claims that about a million registered voters have been struck off the roll.
Speaking at the IEBC pre-nomination conference on May 24, the head of Dr Ruto’s presidential campaign team, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, said the issues will ensure a level playing field.
They include making public the KPMG voter register audit report, the raw certified copies of the principal voter register, copies of the specified register and an assurance that the Executive won’t bully the commission.
The DP’s camp also told the commission to put clarity on the sizes of the polling stations in view of many aspirants gunning for seats as well as give details of the electoral process – voting, tallying and result transmission.
Mr Odinga yesterday also sought to know whether the preliminary report on the voter register by KPMG was ready and if so, what were its findings.
“When is the draft final report of audit of register of voters expected and when does the commission expect to receive the auditor’s final report of the audit of the register of voters and share the findings and recommendations in a workshop with key stakeholders as per the key deliverables/expected outputs set out in the tender document?” he posed.
The Azimio leader questioned how soon IEBC intends to submit the report to the National Assembly and the Senate in compliance with Section 8A (5) of the Elections Act. He also raised concerns on what he termed as numerous proposals to amend elections regulations.
“A proposal to amend Regulation 82 (2) of the Elections (General) Regulations to read that if transmission fails at a polling station the presiding officer will move to the nearest polling station that has a good network and transmit the result and if there is still no network, the presiding officer will proceed to the constituency tallying centre and transmit the results from there.
“Has the commission mapped the number of polling stations where network might be insufficient to transmit data? Is the commission collaborating with mobile network operators to remedy the issue? Are their alternative solutions to the problem including the use of satellite phones procured by the commission in the past?” he posed.
He also raised concerns over a proposal to amend Regulation 83A of the Elections (General) Regulations to give a presiding officer power to open a ballot box that has been sealed to remove wrongly put materials at the constituency tallying/centre.
Mr Odinga took issue with a proposal by the commission to give itself exclusive mandate to appoint election officials, including returning officers, presiding officers and their deputies without sharing their details with political parties and independent candidates as presently required by Regulations 3, 4 and 5 of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012.
On printing of ballot papers, he disclosed that the award of the contract toa Greek firm, Inform Lykos (Hellas) S.A, was of concern since “the company has been linked to last-minute postponement of elections in Nigeria in February 2019 andreportedly intends to sub-contract printing of ballot papers and other electoral materials to other printers”.
Mr Odinga also questioned the status of data migration from the Morpho (Idemia) system to Smartmatic and whether IEBC had hired the manpower required to calibrate the 52,000 kits required to manage the election.
“When does the commission intend to carry out timely end-to end testing of election technology and issue a public notice specifying the date, time and place of the testing and invite stakeholders to attend the end-to-end testing of election technology?” posed the Azimio candidate.
He also raised concerns whether the IEBC had set up the production site data centre and disaster recovery site infrastructure and conducted the annual audit of the election technology to guarantee data integrity.
On stakeholder engagement, Mr Odinga questioned the measures the commission has taken to address the systemic inadequacies identified by the Supreme Court in 2017.
“Section 26 of the IEBC Act requires the commission to observe the principle of public participation and the requirement for consultation with stakeholders. What plan has the commission put in place to unsure stakeholders are fully engaged in all material decisions and processes of the election,’ he posed.
Mr Chebukati said the commission will make a written response regarding the issues of concerns but noted that the commission was focused on delivering free, fair and credible elections.
“The commission has answers to all the issues. We shall look for an opportunity after this, I would urge all presidential candidates to come for a meeting, where we can ventilate some of these issues and I hope you shall attend in person where I as the Returning Officer can iron out these issues,” said Mr Chebukati.
“I want to assure you that all the issues you have raised have been addressed by the commission and we are where we are supposed to be in terms of our election timelines.”
Mr Chebukati said Kenyans should not get worried as the “commission is focused.” “The assimilation of the dry run of technology will be done next week on or before June 9 here at Bomas and you have given us a team – chief agent to work with and this team will be invited to be part of the assimilation exercise,” he said.