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IEBC says voter technology a success despite few hitches

IEBC officials count ballots at Central Primary School Polling Station in Moiben Constituency, Uasin Gishu County, PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG
IEBC officials count ballots at Central Primary School Polling Station in Moiben Constituency, Uasin Gishu County, PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG 

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) says it is satisfied with the performance of technology that identified voters electronically while acknowledging hitches at a few polling stations.

The poll agency Tuesday said the technology was a success in so far as voter identification was concerned even as the Opposition said it was broadly satisfied with the voting process as at 4pm.

The breakdown of some of the gadgets in the 2013 poll was at the heart of Raila Odinga’s petition challenging the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as president. The Supreme Court upheld Mr Kenyatta’s victory.

In 2013, more than half of the electronic voter identification kits (Evids), or poll books, failed forcing the IEBC to use the manual system while real-time electronic transmission of results from the field using mobile phones crashed.

“By large we have seen an orderly process despite a few hitches. But I would say technology worked like never before,” IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba said. 

By the time of going to press, slightly more than one million presidential votes had been transmitted to the national tallying centre. The number of registered voters in the country is 19.6 million.

In Kenya, voting is still by paper ballots but voter identification is electronic. Mobile devices at polling centres are used to transmit results electronically.

Opposition Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi said the alliance was largely satisfied with voting so far.

“We commend (election officials) for the good job so far... we also wish to commend security agencies for the professionalism displayed,” Mr Musalia said at a news conference about an hour before polls were due to close at 5pm.

Still, there were some problems including delays, Mr Mudavadi said. Some agents were denied entry to polling stations, names of some voters were missing from the register, and some electronic voter identification devices failed to work.

IEBC also said that there were “isolated cases” where clerks did not complete the validation of voters once identified using the electronic kits.

“We have instructed our returning officers to ensure that this is done and urge agents to confirm that this process is completed,” the IEBC chairman said.

However, the commission denied allegations that some pre-marked ballot papers had surfaced in Mariakani Ward in Kilifi County as well as in Sabatia Constituency.

The commission said the indelible ink had “accidentally spilled on the paper” causing the incident in Sabatia Constituency while claims of pre-marked ballot papers in Mariakani were untrue.

Meanwhile, voters in at least 300 polling centres were allowed to vote beyond the 5pm deadline due to delays occasioned by logistical challenges.

The polling centres are in Ndia and Nakuru East constituencies. They did not receive ballot papers on time following a mix up in the distribution of the materials.Ndia Constituency has 70 polling centres while Nakuru East has 185.

Mr Chebukati said ballot papers for Ndia Constituency ended up in Nakuru East and vice versa.

“We airlifted the papers to the correct polling stations. Voting is going on as we speak,” he said.

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