Ruto and Raila issue fresh demands on ballot paper printing

Ballot papers used in the 2017 election

IEBC officials ballot papers used in the 2017 election.  inspecting  Presidential candidates Raila Odinga and William Ruto have listed new demands touching on printing of ballot papers and the voters’ register ahead of a meeting with the electoral agency.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga have listed new demands touching on printing of ballot papers and the voters’ register ahead of a meeting with the electoral agency.

Azimio wants the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to provide details on the printing of the more than 120 million ballot papers.

The coalition wants the commission to give details on plans to take representatives of election stakeholders to Greece – where the printer is based – to monitor printing of the papers.

The coalition has also demanded to be informed of the physical location the company as well the security features to be included on the ballots.

IEBC has contracted Greek firm Inform P Lykos SA to supply ballot papers, register of voters, election declaration forms, among other items.

Separately, Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza alliance wants the Wafula Chebukati-led commission to make public the steps it has taken to prevent “another illegal transfer of voters”.

Nigeria elections rescued

Kenya Kwanza has also demanded that every party be allowed to deploy more than one agent at a polling station on the election day.

A split has, however, emerged in the Ruto-led alliance over the phasing out of the physical register for voter identification.

Some DP allies told the Nation that the coalition is for exclusive use of digital register as the physical one is prone to manipulation.

Others, however, are rooting for the physical roll to avert a scenario in which voters who cannot be identified with their biometrics end up being locked out of the elections.

IEBC has invited four presidential candidates – Dr Ruto, Mr Odinga, Prof George Wajackoyah of Roots Party and Agano Party’s David Mwaure Waihiga – to a meeting on Wednesday.

Azimio chief legal adviser Paul Mwangi Saturday accused the commission of remaining silent on its preparations in printing of the ballot papers.

“We have not heard much on printing of the papers. We want to know the location of the press. We also want to be told if there are plans to take representatives of the candidates to observe the printing,” Mr Mwangi said.

Printing of ballot papers has in the past been a subject of political contestation, with claims that they can be printed in excess in order to manipulate the election outcome.

In the run up to the 2017 General Election, the IEBC took a delegation comprising representatives of the eight presidential candidates, the civil society, journalists, Kenya Bureau of Standards and religious organisations to witness the printing of the ballots in the Middle East.

Early this month, Mr Odinga said the company is of concern since “it had been linked to the last-minute postponement of elections in Nigeria in February 2019 and intends to sub-contract the IEBC work to other firms”.

But the commission dismissed the concerns, saying the company came to the rescue of the elections in Nigeria after the one initially contracted failed to deliver the materials.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya also seeks answers on the logistics in handling the materials once they are printed and flown to Kenya.

“We want to know where the papers will be stored and plans for transport,” Mr Mwangi said.

Audited voter register

The coalition wants to be informed how the loading of the audited voter register into the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) was done.

It says the commission must inform the public who will be loading the voters’ data.

“Is it the technology provider or the commission?” Mr Mwangi asked.

Azimio Council, the alliance’s top decision-making organ, has instructed its National Coalition Executive Committee and the Presidential Campaign Secretariat to scrutinise the recently gazetted register for any anomaly.

The team is expected to report to the council on Tuesday, a day before the meeting with the commission.

Mr Mwangi said the Azimio team would run the new data against the old register to establish any anomalies.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata Saturday said Kenya Kwanza would push for exclusive use of the digital register.