IEBC under fire for printing 1.2 million extra ballot papers

Pellets carrying the presidential ballot papers at the factory on 29/07/2017.PHOTO BY GEOFFERY MOSOKU

The electoral agency's unilateral decision to print an extra 1.2 million ballot papers for the presidential election has thrust it into yet another political storm.

National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders on Monday read mischief in this, claiming it could be another plot to rig the General Election.

Protests over the extra papers was kicked off on Sunday by Thirdway Alliance Kenya's presidential candidate, Ekuru Aukot.

Poll credibility

Yesterday, the Orange Democratic Movement's national chairman, John Mbadi, the secretary general, Agnes Zani, and the Wiper vice chairman, Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, asked the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to explain the extra ballot papers and warned that this could affect the credibility of the polls.

"Does this then mean ballots for the other positions will not be spoilt? Why only the extra for the presidential (ballot papers)?" asked Dr Zani.

She faulted the electoral agency for not involving all stakeholders before deciding to print extra ballot papers.

The Wafula Chebukati-led commission, however, defended the decision, saying the one per cent additional ballot papers were meant to cater for spoilt ballots before voting.

The commission explained that each booklet has 50 pages, thus its decision to round off the number to 50.

"For uniformity purposes, we had to round off to 50 because there was no way we would make unmatched numbers for different counties," said the IEBC communication manager, Andrew Limo.

The commission on Monday released a document detailing the packaging of the presidential ballot papers to allay fears of possible misuse of the extra papers to manipulate the polls.

In the document, IEBC listed each of the 290 constituencies, their respective total number of registered voters, and number of ballot papers to be delivered.

Ballot booklets

It further detailed the number of ballot booklets to be delivered to all the polling stations spread across the country and how the commission reached the rounded off figures.

The document indicates that no polling station will have more than 700 ballot papers.

But the Opposition is not buying the explanation and has demanded that the commission explain how the papers will be accounted for.

"Ideally, the issue of extra ballot papers should not arise because we know how many people are voting. It is also strange because we don't expect 100 per cent turnout. Why then do we need extra ballots  papers?" asked Senator Mutula Jnr.

Presidential election

Mr Mbadi argued that the presidential election would be won with a small margin and that the 1.2 million extra papers could be used to influence the outcome.

"It is highly unlikely that the one per cent margin will be exhausted and it cannot just be in the presidential race that we print over 6 per cent extra papers," said Mbadi.

Commissioner Roselyn Akombe sought to allay fears that the extra papers would find their way into ballot boxes.

She said the ballot papers and result forms have been customised for each polling station, making it impossible to use those not meant for a particular polling station.

Unique serial numbers

Dr Akombe said presiding officers would show party agents the number of ballot papers issued and record them in the polling diary, complete with the unique serial numbers.

The Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS), she added, would also make it impossible to stuff ballot boxes.