, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 15 – Electoral technology at its best. That is what the Interim Independent Electoral Commission is promising the country for the August 4 referendum and beyond.
The Commission has introduced advanced security measures on documents to be used during the plebiscite including the controversial Form 16A, with additional plans to roll out an extensive electronic system to ensure transmission of accurate and real-time results from the polling stations to the National Tallying Centre (NTC).
The new Form 16A was used in recent by-elections but the referendum will use a version known as Form 6, where total votes will be entered by the Presiding Officer before being relayed to the NTC.
The new form is meant to eliminate manipulation of results and relaying of multiple results that has been characteristic of Kenyan elections.
“Each of the new forms has a serial number and security features that are not visible with a naked eye. They have also been pre-printed with the code of the polling station and the code of the constituency,” Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Gladys Shollei told Capital News in an interview and added “learning from the past what we have done is to make sure that the form cannot be replicated.”
In previous elections, different signed forms of results have been forwarded to the National Tallying Centre creating confusion and a crisis on their authenticity as the form was usually duplicated.
The new electronic transmission system ensures timely delivery of provisional results. Each of the over 26,000 polling stations will be equipped with a custom made mobile phone to transmit the elections results to the Constituency tallying centres and the National Tallying Centre in Nairobi. This will ensure that there are two tabulations of the total constituency votes running concurrently.
For the far flung areas of Northern Kenya, the commission will deploy satellite phones.
“Each of the phones to be used is pre-programmed for a specific station. It cannot be used to send the results of another polling station and it cannot relay the results anywhere else except to our central server which is backed up,” said Ms Shollei.
Ms Shollei who spoke after a meeting with editors assured that the commission would take utmost security precautions to ensure that the system is protected from any interference.
There will be a tallying centre for each of the 210 constituencies where constituency votes will be collated. In both the national and constituency centres, there will be a giant screen showing minute-by-minute results from the polling centres as they are sent by the presiding officers. At the same time the tabulations will be updated at the commission’s website.
The commission has successfully piloted the use of the electronic results transmission in the by-elections in Matuga and South Mugirango constituencies.
To eliminate double voting, the commission will be using both the indelible ink and a new ‘spring marker pen.’ The new pen has the ability to remain visible for over a month after the marking.
Created after the disbandment of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya, the IIEC is charged with the responsibility of establishing a credible secretariat, reforming the electoral system and introduction of efficient modern technology.
Already, the commission has registered voters afresh in the attempt to eliminate dead voters and double registrations that were accused of skewing the 2007 election that reported massive irregularities. The electoral body also piloted electronic voter registration in 18 constituencies and hopes to replicate this across the country.
Inspection of voters’ registers ended on July 11 and political parties and other interested parties will have access to the finalised rolls later this month.