Why dead voters are still haunting the IEBC register

IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati

Kenyans may have to come to terms with the reality that ridding the register of names of dead voters could prove to be a tall order.

With the electoral commission running out of time, failure by Kenyans to record deaths and the foot-dragging by authorities to provide comprehensive information on registered deaths, the possibility of dead voters ‘participating’ in the August 8 poll is not far-fetched.

Two weeks into the statutory deadline for implementing the KPMG report, sources at IEBC told Sunday Standard that so far, only the 92,277 ghost voters identified by the special audit have been struck off the roll of voters.

Already, the commission has defaulted on the statutory deadline of publishing the final voters register, 60 days to the General Election. There are only 43 days to the election left and IEBC does not appear to have the capacity to identify every dead voter in its register.

“The audit’s projection of one million dead voters deserves a deeper analysis and scrutiny. For instance, not all dead persons are above 18 years of age. Again, not all deceased persons aged 18 and above were registered voters. And finally, not all deaths are registered in this country,” IEBC’s Communications Manager Andrew Limo said Saturday.

He said the commission had already struck off the 92,277 identified and engaged relevant authorities to get a comprehensive list of potentially deceased voters with the aim of removing them from the register. The KPMG audit, which has since been dismissed by NASA as bogus, found that a total of 2,390,054 persons of all ages died between 2012 and 2016. Of these, only 970,895 deaths were registered.

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Out of the 2.3 million reported as dead, 1,534,009 were aged 18 years and above. From these figures and over a span of four years, IEBC had only removed a paltry 11,104 from the register. In fact, between 2013 and the period of the audit, the commission had only removed 30 dead voters from the register.

The audit also found that of the estimated 1,534,009 deaths of persons aged above 18 years, only 621,832 deaths were recorded by the Civil Registration Department of the national government. When KPMG sought the list of registered deaths, the department gave them a mixed list of 435,175 dead persons across all ages. It is from this list that the 92,277 deceased voters were identified.

“Taking into account the number of registered deaths for persons aged 18 years and above, whose detailed death records were not provided by the Civil Registrar, and the expected deaths for persons aged 18 years and above who have not been registered; and applying an enrollment rate of 77.58 per cent, KPMG deduced that there is a potential for an additional 1,037,260 deceased persons in the register of voters,” an abridged version of the KPMG report released by IEBC on June 9 indicated.

In the breakdown of 1,037,260 potentially dead voters, 329,594 come from the list of registered deaths of persons aged 18 years and above, which was not availed to KPMG by the Civil Registry, while 707,666 come from the unregistered deaths of persons aged 18 years and above.

Mule Musau, the national coordinator of the domestic observation group Elog, says it is unlikely that all dead voters will be removed from the register in the current scenario. Musau said the one million-plus estimate was partly based on unobtained records from chiefs and informal death records which IEBC may not have full access to.

“What the commission will possibly do is remove the 92,000 voters identified so far. The rest cannot be ascertained unless records are availed,” he said.

Apart from low coverage of death registrations, other issues identified in the KPMG report as hampering successful separation of the dead and the living in the register include missing details of recorded deaths and the mixing up of IDs of persons reporting the deaths and those of the dead persons.

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In 2008, the Independent Review Commission on the 2007 election (Kriegler Report) singled out ECK for “ineffective” deletion of names of deceased voters from the register, creating an opportunity for rigging.

Meanwhile, IEBC has recalled all the 45,000 Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS) kits from the polling stations to Nairobi for configuration, to comply with the rule that each polling station should have a maximum of 700 voters.

“The commission is currently realigning the number of voters in the estimated 41,000 polling stations. This will ensure that they are within the law,” Limo said Saturday.

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