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New Bill roots for manual transmission of poll data

Parliament in a previous session [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A fresh political clash looms in the National Assembly following the introduction of a Bill seeking to bring back manual transmission of election results last used in 2007.

The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 is pushing for alternative methods that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) can deploy to relay results during the August 9 polls.

It further seeks to allow for manual identification of voters at the polling station. Claims of dead voters casting their ballot have been at the heart of alleged election manipulation in the previous elections.

The State-sponsored Bill was tabled on the floor of the House yesterday by Majority Leader Amos Kimunya.

“Clause 21 seeks to amend Section 44A of the Act to provide for complimentary mechanism for voter identification and transmission of election results,” states the Bill.

Part of the implication of the provision is that returning officers managing the polls would have to physically deliver election results to the national tallying centre.

It further implies that failure of electronic transmission cannot be a basis to challenge the outcome of the presidential election outcome.

Electronic transmission of results was at the heart of the 2017 presidential petition where Opposition chief Raila Odinga successfully challenged the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Supreme Court.

The country was plunged into a crisis in 2007 after the delay of some of presidential results which was attributed to manual transmission. Some election officials took too long to turn up at the national tallying centre.

It is as a result of these anomalies that a law was crafted to ensure results were electronically relayed to the national tallying centre to avoid delays. The Bill further seeks to reduce the period within which political parties are required to submit a certified copy of the membership from the current four months to three months.

This clause is seen as attempt to give political parties enough time to prepare their membership roll for purposes of the primaries. The recently enacted Political Parties law require that only registered members of a political party can participate in their nominations.

Coalition political parties will also be required to submit copy of certified copy of its nomination rules issued by the Registrar of Political Parties within 14 days of its registration.

“Clause 16 to amend Section 28 of the Act to provide that a party shall submit to the commission a certified copy of the membership list from the Registrar of Political Parties. The clause further proposes to reduce the timeline for submission of party membership lists from 120 days to 90 days,” adds the Bill.

The Bill further spells doom for poll losers in MCA elections by limiting appeal mechanism up to the High Court. Currently, poll losers go up to the Supreme Court to challenge poll outcome in what has seen petitions drag for years.

The Bill is likely to lead to an acrimonious session in the National Assembly as rival camps prepare to battle out in a process that will be decided by numbers.