NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will in July start the procurement process of new voter registration and voter identification devices to be used in next year’s poll.
Commissioner Mohammed Alawi assured the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that the new Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) and Electronic Voter Identification Devices (EVID) will be in the country in March 2017 and will be tested to avoid malfunctions which occurred in 2013.
“Our commitment is that within six months of the general elections we should be able to be testing the systems and ensure all of them are working and working in a way that everybody understand how it works. Any stakeholder who also wishes to bring an expert to audit how the systems works will be able to do so, so that we don’t end up in a situation whereby, you have a system being operated one week or one month before the general election in what happened in the last election,” said Alawi.
Committee Chairman Samuel Chepkonga directed the commission to brief the House on the procurement process next month after MPs Njoroge Baiya, Peter Kaluma and Olago Aluoch queried the measure the commission was taking to build an effective technology to help salvage its reputation in 2017.
In 2013, key electoral staff were ill prepared and did not know how to use critical technology leading to failure of both the Electronic Voter Identification Devices and the electronic transmission system.
Alawi and Commission CEO Ezra Chiloba said this time around, ballot papers will be shipped in between July 8 and July 25 next year and clearance at the airport will take five days before distribution to constituencies kicks off on August 1.
The National Treasury has proposed to allocate Sh19 billion to the commission in the coming financial year of which Chiloba said Sh4.4 billion will be used to hire polling officials, Sh2.7 billion for transport during polls, Sh4.7 billion for administrative costs and Sh3.2 billion for mass voter registration next year.
The electoral commission in January unveiled an elaborate Sh45 billion election operations plan for the 2017 polls whose focus is the improvement of vote-tallying and results-relaying technology.
The Election Operations Plan shows that the commission is seeking Sh20.8 billion in the fiscal year beginning July and Sh19.4 billion in the next year beginning July 2017.
The IEBC budget shows the commission would require an additional Sh15 billion for normal operations.
The EOP also includes a proposal for regulations to manage political party nominations, improvement of ballot paper colours, review of the number of polling officials per station and development of a women situation room to track issues affecting women during elections.
Chiloba said they intend to increase the number of polling stations to about 44,000 from the current 31,000 polling stations nationwide.
The commission also plans to undertake another national mass voter registration in February-March 2017.
According to the road map, the elections for President, 47 Governors, 47 Senators, 290 Members of the National Assembly, 47 County Women Representatives and 1,450 County Ward Representatives will be held on Tuesday, August 8, 2017.