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IEBC delivers another blow to vote riggers

Each voter entering a polling station receive six ballot papers 

Directive is meant to ensure that no elective position will get more votes than the total cast in a polling station for the other five seats

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has come up with further measures aimed at stopping fraud during the elections.

The commission has made it mandatory that all voters entering a polling station receive six ballot papers – for all the elective seats.

This is meant to ensure that the number of votes cast for each elective seat in the polling station agrees with the cumulative presidential vote in that station. All polling officials have been instructed to effect the directive.

“The instructions have been included in our polling procedures for purposes of training polling clerks and presiding officers,” IEBC Commissioner Rose Akombe said.

Dispelling fears

This is meant to dispel fears that some areas may register a higher turnout for the presidential election than the other five seats, inviting suspicions of foul play.

In 2013, NASA, the main opposition group, participating in the polls as Cord, accused the electoral commission of allowing its opponents to stuff boxes with more than two million extra ballots.

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Opposition leader Raila Odinga has often said that records showed that 10 million people voted for all the other candidates – governors, MPs, woman representatives, and MCAs – yet the same records show that 12 million people voted for the presidential candidates.

The then electoral commission dismissed the claims, but admitted that there was a discrepancy of 458,085 votes between those who voted for the presidential candidates and the other five seats.

IEBC wants to avoid a scenario where the turnout for the presidential seat will be relatively higher and thus raise suspicions of rigging.

By making it compulsory for every voter to get six ballots and unique features introduced to the presidential ballot paper, the commission also hopes to address concerns by the Opposition, which has claimed that extra papers have been printed to help Jubilee.

“At the opening of the polling station, the presiding officers will show party agents the number of ballot papers issued and record them in the polling day diary, complete with the unique serial numbers. At the end of polling, the presiding officer will record the number of unused ballot papers and provide the same to the agents,” Dr Akombe said.

Last week IEBC announced that it had sealed another possible loophole that could have allowed ‘dead’ voters to cast a ballot by doing away with the manual crossing out of a voter’s name on the printed register.

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The decision was arrived at in a plenary held at Nairobi. The justification was that since voters will be identified using the KIEMS machine, there will be need to cross out their names as that would have already been recorded.

The commission has informed all presiding officers of this requirement, with the 5,400 names of people without biometrics being made available in another register.

On polling day, the clerks will not be allowed to open the printed registered and will only use the barcode printed on the cover page to open the biometric register.

“We will not be crossing the names of voters since that has already been recorded by the kit,” Commissioner Paul Kurgat said.

This is aimed at forestalling the possibility of errant clerks identifying people who have not cast their ballots and then stuffing boxes by crossing out their names.

Other than the above measures, IEBC says at three-hour intervals throughout polling day, presiding officers will report to the returning officer the number of ballots issued and IEBC will track this against the voter turnout at that particular time.

Any inconsistencies will be detected immediately and action taken against the presiding officers in case of electoral offences, according to the Wafula Chebukati led team.

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The KIEMS gadgets will not allow presiding officers to transmit more results than the number of registered voters in a polling station. This ensures that there is no ballot stuffing at any point and that any politician attempting to manipulate the system only stands to fail,” Dr Akombe added.

She further clarified that the regulations were clear that the commission will annul results from any polling station that has more than the number of registered voters.

“This means that even in a worst case scenario of the failure of KIEMS, ballot stuffing is mitigated against,” she added.

IEBC has warned that officials hired to conduct the General Elections will bear individual criminal liability for any misconduct, unlike in the past where electoral errors only resulted in election petitions.

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