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Economy

Poll monitors bet on manual forms checks to give verdict

Marietje Schaake, head of the EU election observers mission. PHOTO | EMMA NZIOKA
Marietje Schaake, head of the EU election observers mission. PHOTO | EMMA NZIOKA  

International observers have said that manual checking of results from polling stations will reveal if the transmission was manipulated even as they praised the voting process.

The observers on Thursday said they did not witness manipulation of the voting process, adding that they will issue a final assessment once tallying is completed.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) expects to complete the process on Friday evening.

Provisional results give President Uhuru Kenyatta the lead but Opposition leader Raila Odinga has rejected temporary electronic results, saying the figures released so far are “fictitious” and the election system was hacked.

In their first assessment of Tuesday’s polls, European Union observers said they saw no signs of “centralised or localised manipulation” of the voting process and they were observing the ongoing tabulation of the ballots. Marietje Schaake, head of the mission, said the EU will provide an analysis of the tallying process in a later report.

The IEBC on Wednesday started verifying presidential results on physical forms from polling stations, dubbed form 34A and 34B, to restore confidence in the tallying process.

“The IEBC process of comparing original tally sheets, which are legally recognised documents, to the data base (results) should reveal whether that took place (hacking) and simultaneously preserve the integrity of the process,” said the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

The election commission admitted it suffered a hacking attempt after Tuesday’s vote but the system was not compromised, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said on Thursday.

“Hacking was attempted but did not succeed,” Mr Chebukati told a news conference without elaborating.

Provisional results released by IEBC showed Kenyatta had won 54.3 per cent of the votes, ahead of Odinga’s 44.8 per cent — a lead of 1.4 million votes with results from 97 per cent of polling stations counted.

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry, head of the Carter Center observer mission, said the election system — which is ultimately based on the original paper ballots cast — remained solid and all sides should wait for electronic tallies to be double-checked against hard copies.

“The process that was put in place is proving its value thus far,” Kerry said. “Kenya has made a remarkable statement to Africa and the world about its democracy and the character of that democracy. Don’t let anybody besmirch that.”

But the Carter Center said that electronic transmission of results from polling stations to the national tallying centre ‘‘proved unreliable’’.

‘‘Although election day voting and counting processes functioned smoothly, the electronic transmission of results from the polling stations to the 290 constituency centres, where official results are tallied, proved unreliable. The IEBC advised election officials to revert to the paper copies of the results forms, which provided a reliable mechanism to tabulate the results,’’ said the Carter Center in a statement.

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