Repeat presidential election date may be changed

A decision on whether to change the date of the fresh presidential election might be made on Monday, when the electoral commission deliberates on a status report on the voter identification and result transmission kits.

According to sources, however, the decision is not likely to be made public until Wednesday, when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) meets President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival Raila Odinga at the Bomas of Kenya, the National Tallying Centre.

French-firm has submitted to the Wafula Chebukati-chaired IEBC a six-page report, in which it is detailing how long it will take to reconfigure the 45,000 kits for the fresh election, which is scheduled for October 17.

“Since Morpho gave its oral presentations, the talk of change of the election date has gained traction in the commission but has not become a substantive agenda,” a source at the IEBC told the Nation, adding: “The commission will meet again today to discuss a six-page report by Morpho and concretise its decision.”

CONFIGURED

The kits will have to be configured with the names of the top two presidential candidates only after the other six were locked out. This will be after a meticulous, no-mistakes-allowed removal and safekeeping of the August 8 General Election data to avoid the risk of the kits re-using data from the invalidated poll.

Since it is only in a presidential election that the kits will be used, the names of the 14,000 candidates for the five other elective seats, their results and portraits will also be removed from the system.

It is important for the IEBC to get the configuration of the kits right — and, ultimately, the voter identification and results transmission — as they were at the heart of the Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the re-election of President Kenyatta and ordered a fresh poll within 60 days.

OTHER POSSIBLE DATES

Since the court released its judgment on September 1, it means the fresh election has to be held by October 31. Sources, however, cited October 24, 26 and 30 as possible election dates should the commission plenary be convinced by Morpho on a postponement of the election. IEBC commissioner Paul Kurgat however said: “The date is still October 17, but Safran has presented its report and we will look at it and make decisions.”

Yesterday, the Odinga-led Nasa opposition coalition targeted Morpho in its renewed attacks on the preparations for the repeat election, dismissing an audit that the firm said it had done, showing it had found no evidence of hacking of the system in the August 8 polls.

But it is not only the kits that may inform the change of the election date.

The IEBC has been thrown into a spin with a demand that will lead to an almost-complete overhaul of the election process, which includes buying of new 40,883 ballot boxes. Most importantly, it will also have to train its more than 300,000 contract employees who will man the elections.

An audit ordered by the Chief Justice David Maraga-led court found massive clerical errors in 42 of the 290 constituencies. These included missing names of the constituency, name of the constituency written by hand, lack of security features such as the serial number and watermark on results forms, cases where the IEBC stamp looks different and others where the form runs into several pages. 

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