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Electoral agency suspends voter registration until after polls

The electoral agency has dealt a blow to Kenyans who had hoped to continue registering as voters, saying it will on Tuesday suspend the enlisting until September 6, a month after the General Election.

This is despite a court order requiring IEBC to continue with the registration until May 17, exactly 60 days to the August 8 General Election.

Also affected in the suspension are those that want their polling stations changed and Kenyans living in the diaspora.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati defended the decision as one that would allow the commission to focus on auditing of the voter register before submitting it for verification by May 10.

“The IEBC gives notice that the application for new registration and change in registration of voters in Kenya and for Kenyan citizens living outside the country shall be suspended from March 7, 2017, and to be reopened on September 6, 2017,” Mr Chebukati said in a Kenya Gazette notice dated February 23.

HAVE PROPER ELECTION

The announcement comes as the IEBC on Monday closes the registration of Kenyans in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Africa, as well as those in prisons.

According to Mr Chebukati, the suspension is necessary if Kenya is to have a proper election on August 8.

“The commission notifies the public that the suspension is to enable preparation and compilation of a revised register of voters under Section 8 of the Elections Act, 2011, for purposes of public inspection and verification of biometric data particulars,” said the IEBC chairman.

READ: Electoral team to start register clean-up amid integrity queries.

According to the IEBC, having a continuous voter registration while it is expected to audit the register and offer it for verification is like having a moving target.

IEBC’s biggest challenge with the continuous registration, sources said, is that it will stop the commission’s planned audit and verification, further destabilising it and threatening to alter critical timelines ahead of the poll.

At the same time, IEBC outlined the steps to be taken in case the electronic system of managing the elections fails, and it has to resort to the manual handling of the process.

KEEP ELECTRONIC DATA

In a new set of regulations submitted to the National Assembly for scrutiny, the IEBC proposes to keep all electronic data on a General Election for three years after the results have been declared.

On how to go the manual route, the regulations state that: “The commission may suspend or terminate election technology if the reliability of a system cannot be assured according to the requirements of the (Elections) Act and these regulations.”

If the technology fails, the clerk at the polling station will be required to inform the presiding officer of the technology failure.

The presiding officer will then be required to retry whatever process the clerk has been unable to perform. In case that does not work, the officer shall fill out an incidence report form, which shall be signed by all the polling agents.

The presiding officer will inform the returning officer, submit the incidence report, then call in the ICT department.

The ICT people will then advise on the suspension or termination of the technology. If suspended, the IEBC will notify the public and stakeholders and of any measures taken to restart the system and any back-up to be used.

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