Wafula Chebukati races against time to beat 7-day vote count deadline

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati signs results verification forms at the National Tallying Centre, Bomas of Kenya. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The electoral commission made huge progress in vote tallying yesterday, verifying and announcing results from 47 constituencies on the fourth of a seven-day window to release results of the presidential election.

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate Deputy President William Ruto had a tally of 1,483,408 (47.76 per cent), while Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga had 1,660,405 (53.46 per cent) from 65 constituencies which had been verified and tallied by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission at the Bomas of Kenya. 

It was a day of relative calm at the auditorium without the storm caused by politicians the day before amid heightened security. Azimio la Umoja August 13, 2022, held a meeting with elected leaders at the KICC, easing the tension and frayed nerves at Bomas and allowing the coalition to bring the list of verified constituency results to 96.

IEBC once again increased the number of verification desks at the tallying centre as more constituency returning officers presented their forms 34B for verification and tallying.

Long process

The commission was forced to make adjustments to the process it was using to verify the results after realising the process was taking too long. The concern was not that the returning officers bearing the forms had not arrived, but that it was taking longer than expected to process and release results.

By the time Chebukati was giving a brief of the process at 4pm, 265 returning officers had reported to the centre.

“Approximately 141 returning officers have been processed, leaving 124 still on the queue,” said Chebukati.

 “As a result of this process, some returning officers have stayed here for three days which is unacceptable,” he said.

The commission said yesterday they were taking between three and four hours to process one returning officer yet they were required to have processed 291 by August 16 when the constitutionally allowed time to announce the results, lapses.

The first Form 34B from the constituency arrived at Bomas on Thursday evening but by Saturday at 5pm, IEBC had done 81 constituencies, leaving 210 pending.

“To optimise the process, and guarantee faster processing of the results and for us to be able to meet our constitutional timelines for processing of the presidential results, the commission has reviewed the results verification process,” Chebukati announced yesterday afternoon.

 Rather than go through the process of verification and then present the forms to Chebukati, the RO would now hand the forms to the chairperson, then verify the transmitted forms against the originals.

“And then the presidential agents will be given copies of the results forms 34A and 34B for their own use and in the event that you require the original documents they will be available on the desks for verification,” he said.

The commission made further changes to the security protocols at the tallying centre, introducing new rules that were meant to keep politicians away.

On Friday, Chebukati said a key reason it was taking longer to verify the results was the obstructive behaviour of politicians nearly all of whom were not required during the exercise.

“From this minute forward, this tallying centre will only allow the presence of agents of presidential agents, chief agents, the deputy chief agents and the clerks that are verifying during the verification process on the floor of the house,” commissioner Abdi Guliye said.

Journalists, observers and diplomats were also given a pass but IEBC stressed that nobody else would be allowed to sit in the auditorium or access Bomas.