NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 25 – The process of superimposing the name, photograph and symbol of Mutula Kilonzo Jr on ballot papers in readiness for the Makueni County by-election kicked off in earnest on Thursday morning at the Bomas of Kenya.
The process involved over 400 staff of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), who were tasked with ingraining a slip with Mutula Jr’s details on the already printed ballot papers, as the commission worked round-the-clock to ensure the voting materials arrived in Makueni County on time.
IEBC Chief Executive Officer James Oswago told journalists at the Bomas of Kenya that the process started smoothly after the printed ballot papers arrived in the country from the United Kingdom.
“We are going through the process of doing the sticking and this is what it looks like. It is virtually indistinguishable so people should be satisfied. And once you stick the slip, you cannot remove it,” assured Oswago.
He explained that the commission hoped to have concluded the process by 4 o’clock on Thursday so that the ballot papers could be flown to Makueni County for distribution alongside ballot boxes, which are already there.
Oswago added that the commission had already chartered a chopper to deliver the ballot papers and would have an extra one on standby to ensure that the distribution process went on without hitches.
“We will be starting with Mbooni Constituency and then we will discuss with the aircraft crew how to distribute the others because we have laid out the priorities but if we only use one aircraft, then it will depend on its schedule,” he said.
Oswago also revealed that the commission had put in place adequate security features on the ballot papers to guard against electoral fraud cases during the by-election.
The security features would also make it difficult for fraudsters to print their own ballot papers.
“The same security features on the prints have been embedded on the other one meaning that if someone attempted to print his own ‘bandia’ one we will know,” he said.
“And in every polling station we have a UV torch light so if we run it through and you printed yours it will not be the same as ours.”
Mutula Jr’s slip details look exactly as the other candidates’ but when someone places the slip under direct light, a keen eye would be able to pick a horizontal line underneath and it looks like it’s already marked.
Oswago however said that the ballot papers would only be marked by a tick or an X.
“You see you are a voter not an examiner and any voter who comes to the polling station and is given a ballot paper to go and vote will hardly go to the extent of looking at all that. And as long as it is either an X or a tick, it is okay,” he explained.
Makueni County has six constituencies: Mbooni, Makueni, Kilome, Kaiti, Kibwezi East and Kibwezi West.
A total of 298,221 voters are registered in the county with Makueni constituency taking the bulk at 64,708 registered voters. Kilome constituency has the least with 36,061 registered voters.