Why NASA is defiant on its adopt-a-polling-centre plan

The law allows each political party to have an agent at every polling station and tallying centre.

This is according to the Elections (General) Regulations of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of 2012.

In a letter dated July 17, last week, the electoral agency wrote to all political parties that will participate in the August 8 contest to ensure that they send the names of their agents by today.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) and Acting Interior CS Fred Matiang’i have disagreed over the former’s ‘adopt-a-polling station’ strategy.

Legal backing

“In this, regard you are required to submit to the commission the names and particulars of appointed agents at least 14 days to the date of the election as governed by Regulation 57 of the Election (General) Regulations 2012,” reads the letter by the commission’s CEO, Ezra Chiloba.

According to Chiloba, each of the participating political parties, including Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Amani National Congress (ANC), Wiper, Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), and Ford Kenya, is required to submit at least one name for the 290 constituency tallying centres, 47 names for county tallying centres, and in all the 40,883 polling station.

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The Chiloba letter, which was also copied to Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u, says where a political party does not nominate an agent for its candidate, the candidate may appoint an agent of his or her choice.

It is this regulation that the Raila Odinga-led NASA coalition is using to stay put with its adopt-a-polling-station strategy as an antidote to election rigging.

NASA contends that most election injustices happen in or around polling stations during elections and wants to make sure that volunteer citizens are fed, secured, and enabled in keeping vigil on election day.

“Our presence will deter any incitement that may lead to violence or panic and insist that the next five years have to be determined by the people. We intend to reduce, or hopefully eliminate, the chances for irregularity and restore hope and morale to the electorate,” reads the NASA plan.

Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula accused Matiang’i of trying to intimidate voters without any legal backing, adding that there is no law that bars any person from remaining within the precincts of the polling station.

“It is only IEBC that has the legal mandate to supervise the elections. Matiang’i, as the Interior CS, has no such authority,” said Wetang’ula.

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The adopt-a-polling-station concept launched by NASA is similar to the one used by Ghana’s opposition party.

Ghana’s opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo won the presidential election in December 2016, garnering 53.85 per cent of the vote, on his third run for the presidency, while the incumbent, John Mahama, got 44.4 per cent.

The strategy of Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party (NPP) involved tallying of votes before the electoral commission officially announced results.

Raila was invited to Ghana for the inauguration of Akufo-Addo in January and seems to have borrowed the plan from there.

NPP adopted the concept in which party and polling agents monitored votes from the stations and transmitted them immediately after counting was done at the centres.

The agents used innovative technology to set up data systems that linked all the 29,000 polling stations across Ghana with the 275 parliamentary constituencies.

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