NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 18 – Ballot papers for Governor, Woman Representative and Senate elections will arrive in the country from Dubai Tuesday night.
The materials arrive in the country even as the printing of the presidential ballots meant to commence July 18 stands halted awaiting the outcome of an appeal filed by Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), challenging the decision of the High Court directing the electoral agency to tender afresh the printing.
Following the July 7 ruling, the Commission invited the public to submit memoranda on procurement of the ballots even as it convened a meeting with presidential candidates and their agents to collect views on fresh tendering.
The move was seen as a precautionary measure meant to cushion against interference of the election should the Court of Appeal uphold the High Court verdict annulling printing of presidential ballots by Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC.
In its ruling, a three bench judge comprising Justices Joel Ngugi, Joseph Mativo and George Odunga granted an application filed by the Opposition, after establishing that IEBC did not undertake adequate public participation while sourcing for a printer.
“This court issues an order of mandamus compelling IEBC to commence de novo the procurement process for the award of the tender for printing of election materials for the presidential election scheduled for 8 August 2017 in accordance with the constitution, provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act and the relevant election laws so that to ensure free, fair and transparent polls are conducted on August 8,” Presiding Judge Ngugi directed.
Earlier on Tuesday, IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba indicated that details of 19.6 million voters in the IEBC register will be made public by the end of the week.
Speaking at a forum on election preparedness convened by the Africa Centre for Governance (AfriCOG), Chiloba said the agency will however exclude images of voters and truncate Identity Card numbers in the interest of the privacy of the electorate.
“Given the interest that people have on the register of voters, we’re going to publish it but with truncated information because there are people who do not wish their images for instance to be published,” he noted.
According to Chiloba, the Commission is keen on ensuring details of voters are availed in such a manner that will not trigger further litigation which may derail the electoral process.
“We are looking at the entire architecture so that the information we provide is useful and that should by Thursday hopefully,” he said.
Chiloba was responding to requests by civil society groups to make the register public with a political activist, Gladwell Otieno, already having moved to court seeking to have the electoral agency compelled to make the register public.
The commission also disclosed that a list of polling stations will be published alongside network coverage in respective stations as plans take shape to ensure the transmission of results is conducted swiftly without internet connectivity challenges.
“The success of transmission will largely depend on network coverage because we shall be using data to transmit images of Form 34 which requires 3G or 4G network. This will ensure that people know the scope and the limits,” said Chiloba.
He however pointed out that plans were underway to ensure satellite technology is deployed where network coverage may not be favourable for results transmission.
The election manager dispelled fears of systemic failures throughout the country saying polling officials using the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) devices will be able to queue results so that they can be transmitted once internet connectivity is established.
“Unlike 2013, we are working with all telecommunication service providers. We’re also exploring the possibility of transmitting the results not necessarily from the polling station but rather wherever there will be network,” he said.
AfriCOG Executive Director Gladwell Otieno challenged the electoral agency to intensify its voter education programmes adding that civic education needed to be a full-time engagement as opposed to temporary campaigns in the run up to the elections.
“We should not act as students waiting until the last minute for them to start reading for exams. We also need to work on the content of voter education so that it is not demeaning to the illiterate voter,” she said.
Other members of the civil society present underscored the importance of the poll register saying the process would ensure records of ineligible persons are cleared off the register to further foster its authenticity.
“We need to confirm details and ensure people who may have died; those who are bankrupt and those convicted of electoral offences are removed from the register,” advocate Willis Otieno argued.