Politics and policy

IEBC now turns to manual vote tallying after glitch

IEBC officials at the Bomas national elections tallying centre on Wednesday. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL
IEBC officials at the Bomas national elections tallying centre on Wednesday. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL  

Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) presidential candidate Raila Odinga was leading his Jubilee rival Uhuru Kenyatta last evening after tallying of the votes started afresh.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) resorted to manual tallying of votes as filed by constituency returning officers after the electronic system from polling stations collapsed.

At the time of going to press 155, 883 votes had been tallied from six constituencies with 177, 923 registered voters, giving a participation rate of 87 per cent.

Mr Odinga had 108,805 or 70 per cent of the votes cast against 43, 016 votes or 28 per cent for Mr Kenyatta.

The tallied votes were from the diaspora, and Wundanyi, Kajiado South, Mwatate, Rongo and Kajiado Central constituencies. There 291 constituencies, including the diaspora, from which results have been logged before the final tally can be arrived at.

The calculation of each candidate’s strength was changed to be a percentage of total votes cast instead of the valid number of votes in line with the constitutional provision.

In the provisional results released earlier on, the commission had left out the percentage of rejected votes, which by 3pm Wednesday stood at 338,592.

At the time of discarding the provisional results, Mr Kenyatta had polled 2,834,379 votes or 53.4 per cent of the valid votes while Mr Odinga had 2,234,564 or 42 per cent from results of 13, 933 polling stations.

Eight presidential candidates contested the election but attention has shifted to the two who are expected to get more than 90 per cent of the votes between them.

The decision to calculate the percentage of votes garnered by a candidate based on the total votes cast has elicited controversy with Mr Kenyatta’s Jubilee Coalition saying on Wednesday that it was meant to deny it outright victory.

Jubilee Coalition Advisory Council member Charity Ngilu claimed British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner and Maina Kiai, a human rights activist, were canvassing to have IEBC reject votes tallied.

She also took issue with the presence of the British military personnel in the country.  

“We at Jubilee Coalition are alarmed by the abnormally high influx of British military personnel in the country which began around the voting day, under the pretext of training,” Mrs Ngilu, who lost the Kitui Senator seat to Cord’s David Musila, said.  

(Read: First-timers floor political giants in race for positions)

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, however, denied the claims, saying the soldiers were undergoing regular training at the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) as agreed with the Ministry of Defence nine months ago.

“Claims of British interference, including by the High Commission, in the electoral process are entirely false and misleading,” a Foreign Office spokesperson said.

The spokesman said the UK did not have a position on how the rejected votes should be handled. 

“That is for the IEBC, and if necessary Kenyan courts, to determine,” it stated.

(Read: Polls team pledges to audit big pile of rejected votes)

Inclusion of the rejected votes in determining the percentage of votes won by a presidential candidate has the impact of reducing each candidate’s share of the overall vote.

This consideration has gained significance given that it will take the winning presidential candidates to have more votes to get the 50 per cent plus one vote required for one to be declared President.

The winning candidate would also need to garner 25 per cent of the votes cast in more than half of the 47 counties. The provisional results released earlier on showed Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta were meeting this requirement.

Although Article 138(4) of the Constitution talks of ‘votes cast’ Section 77(1) of the The Elections (General) Regulations 2012 enacted in December stipulates that a rejected ballot shall ‘be void and shall not be counted.’

Under the regulations, a ballot is considered spoilt if it does not bear security features, has more than one candidate marked on it, carries the wrong serial number or is unmarked.

Section 77 (2) of the regulations, however, stipulates that ballots with marks in the wrong place, bearing more than one mark or carrying impressions that would identify the voter should not be considered void if the intention of the vote clearly appears.

emutai@ke.nationmedia.com