Errors in poll results forms could land Returning Officers in trouble

Returning Officers from about 42 constituencies could land in trouble because of the manner in which they handled the compilation of results of the presidential election at the August 8 General Election.

A scrutiny of Forms 34B, the forms filled by Returning Officers at the constituency level, shows varied inconsistencies in the way results from polling stations were put together before being transmitted to the National Tallying Centre in Nairobi.

The scrutiny was overseen by Ms Esther Nyaiyaki, the registrar of the Supreme Court, and what the judges made of it will be known once they release details of their judgement regarding the presidential election petition filed by Nasa leader Raila Odinga

A majority of the judges already decided that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission made so many mistakes in the transmission of results, among other issues, that the results of the election in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared to have been re-elected could not have been correct.

In the detailed scrutiny posted on the Judiciary website, the registrar notes many issues with the forms in about 42 of the 290 constituencies.

MISSING NAMES

The issues with the forms include: missing names of the constituency, name of constituency handwritten, lack of security features such as the serial number and the watermark, cases where the IEBC stamp looks different and others where the form runs into several pages.

Majority of the problematic forms are from the Coast, North Eastern, Turkana, West Pokot and parts of the Rift Valley.

“In North Eastern Kenya, all the stamps are similar i.e. Returning Officer,” Ms Nyaiyaki notes in the comments section of the detailed analysis given to the judges.

At the end of the hearing last week, Chief Justice David Maraga questioned IEBC lawyer Paul Muite about the security features on the forms.

Asked whether the forms should have had security features, Mr Muite said: “It was not a requirement of the law.”

Justice Maraga then said, after Mr Muite confirmed that some of the forms had security features: “Meaning, that if they had they all should have.”

CAUTION

Mr Muite said they had because of “abundance of caution. The Commission, out of abundance of caution, are the ones who designed the security features. We have explanations, it’s only that we did not have enough time.”

Justice Isaac Lenaola asked what it then means in the case of Nyali, where the form did not have a serial number, and Mr Muite said it had been signed by agents of both ODM and Jubilee.

Returning Officers were responsible for the filling of the Forms 34B, filling in a table the name of the polling stations and the number of votes each candidate got, the total valid votes and the number of rejected ballots. At the bottom, there is a section for the aggregate results and a space for the agents to sign.

But from the scrutiny by the registrar, there were a variety of apparent mistakes in various constituencies.

In Kisauni, the name of the constituency was written by hand  and the Returning Officer did not sign the form. The Returning Officer in Likoni also did not sign the form. The form from Mvita did not have a watermark while that from Lungalunga had neither a watermark nor a serial number.

NO SERIAL NUMBERS

The Returning Officer’s stamp in Matuga was different while in Ganze, the second page of the Form 34B did not have security features. In Malindi and Magarini constituencies, the forms did not have serial numbers. The form from Ganze lacked security features on the second page.

In Galole, the form was fine but had no watermark and no space for agents to sign. It was, however, not a photocopy.

The Returning Officer in Bura appeared to have typed the agents’ names rather than have them write them down by hand and sign.

Forms from Voi and Garissa Township constituencies had no serial numbers while in Lagdera and Dadaab, the names of the constituencies were missing from the forms.

In Wajir North, the registrar said, the serial number and the stamp did not have the IEBC name. In Wajir East, she noted that the forms had been printed on A4 paper. In Wajir West, the Returning Officer did not sign the form.

The form from Wajir South had the serial number handwritten and the paper used is A4 size while in Mandera East, the Returning Officer did not indicate his name.

NO WATERMARK

In Lafey, there was no serial number on the form, no watermark, the form was stamped but there was no indication that the Returning Officer had signed it.

The form for Isiolo South had everything but the agents’ signatures and the registrar noted that the RO had to travel 150 kilometres to print at the County Tallying Centre because the printer broke down.

In the form from North Imenti, the registrar said that the signature and name of the Returning Officer is a copy but the stamp is original but there were no serial numbers on the forms.

There was no watermark and no serial number on the first page of the form from Runyenjes and the Returning Officer did not write his name.

In Pokot South and Samburu East, the Returning Officers appeared to have suffered a litany of errors.

The form for Pokot South had no serial number, it was a photocopy but there were two copies of records in A4 and A3 format. One had an original IEBC stamp and the signature for the party agents are questionable and the party affiliations are indicated in one form, but the aggregates are the same in both versions.

SAMBURU EAST

In Samburu East, the form had no serial number, there are two Forms 34B, both have security features, one stamp is original, the photocopy had three agents and all of them from Jubilee.

The one on A4 has been stamped August 10 and the A3 one on August 11. The A3 has no agents but has a tally and the A4 has a total. The figures in both are the same but both have no serial number or watermarks.

The officer from Soy did not put the name of the constituency on the form while in Turbo, it has no serial number or watermarks.

In Moiben, the form has no watermark, no serial number  and no name of the returning officer.

In Kuresoi South, there is a watermark on only three pages of the form, two copies of Form 34B and the copy has no watermark, no serial number but has the stamp of the Returning Officer.

The officer in Kajiado West did not indicate his name while in Bomet East, the form does  not have the name of the constituency.

Officers in Khwisero and Mt Elgon did not use the proper forms to fill in the results.

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