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Economy

IEBC on the spot as voter verification platform errs

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati. FILE PHOTO | NMG
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

The electoral body is on the spot as its newly launched SMS voter verification platform returned results even for non-existent national identity numbers.

To check registration status, a voter texts the ID number to the code 70000 and immediately receives a detailed message confirming name, county, polling station code and ward.

Many who sent random ID numbers to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) platform soon realised that voters’ details still came up even when single and double digit figures were used as ID numbers.

For instance, “0” yielded results for Stanley Gitari Muchira of Kirinyaga who is registered at Rwambiti Primary School.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati would not answer our calls but media queries appeared to have caught Communications and Public Affairs manager Andrew Limo unawares.

He told the media that the agency was looking at the anomaly and had forwarded the same to the IT department.

“People should not panic, the other verification at polling stations worked well and even this one is going to work as we are working on it,” he said.

Shortly after the comment, the system began rejecting phony figures entered as ID numbers. It would state after every fake ID entry: “Kindly reply with a valid ID or passport number.’’

The anomaly had raised fears of “ghost voters” with Kenyans taking to social media platforms to rail at the IEBC which only a few weeks ago had its register cleaned up by regional audit firm KPMG.

The electoral body on Tuesday released the final number of voters which stands at 19.6 million including those in the Diaspora and prisoners.

“We are aware that the register of voters cannot be completely rid of deceased persons. However, we are confident that the KIEMS technology provides foolproof authentication on election day and there will be no room for mischief,” Mr Chebukati said when he released the numbers.

Despite the hiccup, the agency is forging ahead with preparations for the August 8 polls.

It has since booked Bomas of Kenya for two months to serve as its national tallying centre.

The agency, which lost an appeal case to have presidential results declared at Bomas of Kenya, is also battling another bid by the Opposition to cancel the ballot papers printing contract.

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