2017 poll data errors add to the blunders of tainted IEBC

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati

The electoral commission has hurriedly pulled down error-laden results of the August 2017 General Election following backlash.

The agency had uploaded the data on its website on May 16, nearly three years after the conclusion of the highly contentious election.

The 767-page document was strewn with errors and inconsistencies, from wrongly-spelled names to the designation of candidates to parties they do not belong to, the publication of wrong jurisdictions and the publication of different winners from those announced in the polls.

The data published by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) shows noticeable inconsistencies in the naming of some jurisdictions.

For instance, Millie Odhiambo is listed as the MP for Mbita, and then later on, the document shows her having lost the position to Noah Odhiambo, but in Suba North Constituency and not the earlier published Mbita.

Mbita Constituency, however, does not exist; it was renamed Suba North. 

Different winners

The publication of winners different from those IEBC announced in 2017 is one of the most prominent and confusing inconsistencies in the data.

Again under Ms Odhiambo, IEBC announced the ODM politician as the MP of Suba North Constituency. However, in the document published last Saturday, under the table of the results of constituency elections, Noah Onyango Odhiambo is indicated as the winner, with 27,208 votes against her 65 votes.

Further, earlier in the document, in the table bearing the names of female MPs, Ms Odhiambo is listed as the MP for Mbita. 

From the data, therefore, it is unclear who the winner of the parliamentary elections between the two is.

In Kibra, Ken Okoth (now deceased), who was declared the winner of the seat in 2017 is shown to have lost to Judah Oduor Okoth, whom IEBC says won with 66,914 votes.

The document also indicates that Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie lost, scoring 12,708 votes against 55,675 votes for Dennis Kariuki, who is listed as the winner.

In Mosop Constituency, Nandi County, the IEBC data shows that Caleb Kipkemoi Tuwei, won the parliamentary seat, beating Vincent Kipkurui Tuwei, who is currently listed as the MP.

Independent candidates

Another conspicuous error is the allocation of candidates to parties they are not registered to, and the declaration of certain candidates as independent, yet they belong to registered political parties.

For instance, Ms Odhiambo is listed as vying for MP under Amani National Congress, yet she is registered and is known to have vied in the 2013 and 2017 general elections under ODM.

On the other hand, Mr Kiarie is listed as an independent candidate, even though he vied under the Jubilee Party.

Mr Kariuki, whom IEBC erroneously lists as the winner of the Dagoretti seat is instead shown to have vied under Jubilee Party.

Even more surprising, the names of certain candidates are entirely missing from the document published by IEBC.

For instance, in the parliamentary results for Muhoroni, IEBC indicates that five candidates contested, with Francis Ogot Ong’elle emerging as the winner with 50,080 votes. However, in 2017, James Onyango K’Oyoo was announced as the winner of the parliamentary seat. Regardless, Mr K’Oyoo does not even feature among the five candidates IEBC lists as contestants.

The commission also makes spelling mistakes in the names of certain candidates. For instance, in the section with the names of MPs, the commission writes Garsen MP Ali Wario Guyo’s middle name as ‘Wariyo’.

“The commission has recalled the 2017 data that was uploaded on the website after a few typographic errors occasioned by massive data were noted. The corrected document will be re-uploaded and shared in due course. Inconvenience caused highly regrettable,” read a statement posted by the commission on May 17.

Typographical mistakes are typically mistakes made in the typing of an electronic or printed material. However, the errors made by IEBC are more serious, thus threatening its already questionable reputation.

Already, several Kenyans have criticised the institution for the faulty results, with most saying the data threw into question the credibility of the electoral institution.

Among those who have reacted to the faulty results is former IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe, who hastily resigned from the polls agency unceremoniously and left the country

“At least you get to see what some of us had to go through. As I said to a friend, I had signed up for a pay-cut when taking that job but not a brain cut, which was my daily agony,” Dr Akombe said on Twitter in reference to the erroneous deleted results.

Earlier this month, she had promised to expose the real goings-on at IEBC as soon as she is legally unbound.