Inside Ruto, Raila vote count plan as IEBC agrees to parallel tallying

Bomas of Kenya tallying centre

Bomas of Kenya , which was the national tallying centre for the 2017 general election. Strategists and key allies of Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga and those of DP William Ruto, Sunday revealed details of robust parallel tallying systems they will deploy in the August 9 elections.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Strategists and key allies of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party presidential candidate Raila Odinga and those of his main challenger, Deputy President William Ruto, Sunday revealed details of robust parallel tallying systems they will deploy in the August 9 elections.

The revelations come just a day after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) encouraged political parties, media, civil society and other stakeholders to do their own tabulation to build trust in the polls.

While parties, the media, and election observers have done parallel tallying before, they have been largely unsuccessful.

Independent tallying has been possible since the electoral laws were amended in 1997, allowing interested parties access to counting centres and mandating public display of the vote count at each polling station.

Massive parallel tallying

The promise by IEBC to allow access to election declaration forms in polling stations and constituency tallying centres—as well as plans by the parties to set up agents in each of the 46,232 polling stations—means a massive parallel tallying could take place on August 9, with the commission only being awaited to declare the official results.

“You [political parties] are allowed to tally your results; the media should also tally the results. There will be a platform where the forms, when they’re transmitted, will be collected and ... you can have access to the results,” IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said on Saturday.

In 2017, Mr Odinga’s National Super Alliance (Nasa) had announced a parallel tallying centre but claimed a police raid ruined their plans at the last minute.

Nasa accused officers of raiding its tallying centers on Eldama Ravine Road in Westlands, Nairobi, carting away computers, an allegation the police denied.

Tally own results

On Sunday, Mr Odinga’s agents told the Nation that the Azimio team had intended to tally its own results whether IEBC had allowed it or not.

“We are currently working on a robust system that will ensure that we have real-time results and it will be transmitted in all our portals as well as social media handles,” Mr Odinga’s chief presidential agent Saitabao Ole Kanchory said.

The Azimio team wants to also rely on the agents of other candidates in the other five elective seats up for grabs in the August poll. Mr Kanchory said they will be using 300,000 agents to relay results from all the polling stations.

IEBC now has 46,232 polling stations, up from 40,883 in 2017. Presidential candidates are allowed to have one agent per polling station. Mr Odinga’s chief legal advisor, Mr Paul Mwangi, yesterday asked IEBC to actualise its promise on supplying relevant data and election materials to parties and other actors who want to set up tallying centres.

“Every party has always had a tallying centre. Last time we had a tallying centre, Jubilee had one, and therefore, it is not a question of IEBC permission. The challenge has always been the supply of timely information,” Mr Mwangi said.

Results transmission system

DP Ruto, Mr Odinga, Prof George Wajackoyah (Roots Party) and Mr David Mwaure Waihiga (Agano party) will on Wednesday meet IEBC to discuss the results transmission system.

Mr Mwangi said one of the issues they will want IEBC to address is the result streaming system, which collapsed in 2017.

“Last time when we fought for election laws, we were fighting so that information was provided at the same time. They had to give a public portal — those are the concerns that we want IEBC to address. The public portal should be working because it will give us all the information we need when we need it for us to do our own tally. Parties have agents and we tally with the information given by the agents. The system for streaming results collapsed last time,” Mr Mwangi explained.

For the Ruto camp, theirs will be an escalation of a parallel tallying system that the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has adopted in recent by-elections.

In the mini-polls, agents of the UDA candidates were required to take photographs of the results declaration forms, signed by all agents and the presiding officer, and forward them to the party’s tallying centre as soon as the results are declared.

At the tallying centre, a team led by UDA digital strategist Dennis Itumbi will upload them, as statisticians tally the results.

These will then be uploaded to the party’s website — Mr Itumbi on Saturday confirmed a similar plan was in the offing, saying, “it is confirmed. We are all set”.

On Sunday, UDA chairman Johnston Muthama told the Nation that they also expect agents of their candidates in other seats to feed them with results from the polling stations countrywide.

“There will be a desk with personnel who will be receiving messages from agents.  We’ll have six candidates in every polling station, whose agents will relay information to us,” Mr Muthama said.

New party headquarters

But with the shoe on the other foot, sources in the DP’s camp, fearing state clamp down of such a system, are planning to set it up at the new party headquarters, or a top official’s home, to ward off prying eyes. Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said they will guard their votes at the grassroots until the tallying is done.

“Our agents won’t leave the polling centres before, during or after voting. They shall stay throughout until the tallying is done,” he said.

Addressing Kenyans in the UK in March, the DP said they will put in place measures to protect their votes, despite having raised the alarm over an alleged plot to rig the election while on the US leg of his tour abroad.

“My votes cannot be stolen. I am not the type they can steal votes from. It is not possible,” DP Ruto told supporters at Holiday Inn Hotel in London.

According to the DP’s presidential campaign head, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, the team is all set to tabulate results from its agents at the polling stations.

“We will have agents in the over 45,000 polling stations and also 24,000 polling centres. Ours will be to recheck because we have a duty to make sure that what IEBC is posting is similar to what has been announced at the polling centre and constituency tally centre,” Mr Nanok told the Nation.