By PETER OPIYO
Electoral team is fighting to maintain its credibility and confidence of Kenyans in the final outcome after it surprisingly abandoned plans for electronic voting in favour of vulnerable and risky manual process.
Spelling out measures it would enforce to ensure ‘dead’ voters, estimated at 2,000,000 in the bungled 2007 election, do not ‘vote’ in next year’s election, the team also defended the decision to go manual.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Isaack Hassan said even with the manual registration of voters, which IEBC had now been forced to settle on, his team would still execute a fair process and deliver a credible result.
His assurance, however, did not seem to convince a joint sitting of two parliamentary committees picked to probe the tender for electronic voting platform withdrawn following claims of bribery and inferior standards.
Hassan and his team of eight commissioners, as well as IEBC’s chief executive JSO Oswago, appeared before the committees a day after National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende ordered investigations into the Sh3.9 billion Biometric Voter Register (BVR) Tender.
IEBC on Wednesday announced, a day after Appeal Court ruled in favour of its March 4, 2013, election date, it had discarded plans for BVR, despite the fact Kenyans had pinned the hope that there would not be a repeat of the 2007 electoral malpractices because of its inbuilt security features.
Hassan enumerated measures IEBC would employ to weed out any loopholes that may be used to interfere with the data collection, to the level that would have been guaranteed by an electronic process.
Even though the electoral body had promised Kenyans they would next year vote on an electronic platform, where results are streamed on real time from the polling centres and automatically tallied at the selected centres across the country, Hassan conceded the setback was real.
“We gave a promise that we were going to fully automate the electoral process, but now we are disappointed. This is a setback to our promise, but nothing is lost because we have conducted voter registration before,” said Hassan.
The commission said it would ensure it has a clean voter register. It said it would liaise with relevant registration agencies to scrutinise the register ahead of elections.
“To enhance the integrity of the register, we will subject the register to a check with the National Registration Bureau, Department of Immigration for passports and Registrar of Births and Deaths, and Integrated Population Registration System,” said Hassan.