Low turnout, glitches hit polls


A voter confirms his votes before casting them at Kileleshwa Primary School polling station during Kenya's general election on August 9, 2022. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

The General Election was plagued with late opening of polling stations, and technical hitches as turnout risk falling below the 80 percent witnessed in 2017’s polls.

Several voters who showed up early at the polling stations experienced delays in casting their ballots after the Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS) kits failed to pick their fingerprints.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) during a Monday briefing at the Bomas of Kenya said it did not consider Kiems kit failures to be widespread.

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“The failure is not widespread. We expect that one or two may present a malfunction but that does not mean it is widespread,” said IEBC commissioner Justus Nyang’aya.

Some of the candidates who were compelled to vote later after the KIEMS kits failed on the first attempt include presidential aspirant George Wajackoyah, Kenya Kwanza Alliance presidential running mate Rigathi Gachagua and Nairobi Woman Representative candidate Esther Passaris.

In instances where the KIEMS kits failed to pick biometric details, the voters were compelled to resort to identification via manual register.

The IEBC allowed 238 polling stations to use a manual register of voters and extended voting time in those that had delays, it said.

This comes a day after the Court of Appeal suspended a decision directing the electoral body to use a manual register concurrently with the electronic register. Under the ruling, the Wafula Chebukati-led commission was ordered to use the printed register of voters only in instances where the KIEMS kits completely fail, with no possibility of repair or replacement.

The turnout as of 4pm yesterday was 56.17 percent, according to the IEBC.

The highly contested polls coming at a time Kenyans are grappling with high costs of basic needs have been dampened by widespread voter apathy and frustration.

Kenya’s inflation hit a five-year high in July on soaring food prices, breaching the government’s upper limit ceiling for the first time and further squeezing the stagnant earnings of households.

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The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics reported on inflation — a measure of annual changes in the cost of living — climbed to 8.3 percent from 7.9 percent in June and 7.1 percent in May.

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