SECTIONS

IEBC allays concerns over credibility of voter register

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Esther Jeruto, Standard] 

As the August 9 General Election inches closer, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is facing the perennial question of its preparedness, which has dogged the current and previous electoral agencies in past elections.

The IEBC has been unable to shake off concerns about the credibility of the voters’ register, with questions emerging over the accuracy of the ongoing audit by Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG).

Civil society organisations have queried whether the register under audit is, in fact, the original register, amid reports that KPMG had trouble accessing the same since it is reportedly in the custody of OT Morpho, which supplied election equipment to the IEBC.

In 2019, Parliament slapped a 10-year ban on the firm as it had not been registered as a foreign company in Kenya, finding the firm in breach of the Companies Act.

The matter of the voters’ register came up during a recent meeting that brought together civil society groups and political parties and which had representation from the Judiciary and other stakeholders. 

The chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Jean Mensa, also attended the meeting that was jointly convened by the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

Participants who attended the meeting held at a Nairobi hotel doubted whether the ongoing audit by KPMG was on the original register.

IEBC Chief Executive Officer Marjan Hussein Marjan yesterday told The Standard that KPMG is auditing an authentic register.

Reports had suggested that the blacklisted company had not shared the original register of voters with the IEBC and KPMG. There were claims the commission was forced to manually upload details of the existing register.

Hosting of register

“The reports are not true. The register of voters is the property of IEBC, hosted in the commission’s database and within its servers. OT Morpho has nothing to do with the hosting of the register of voters,” Marjan said in a text message.

IEBC Chief Executive Officer Marjan Hussein Marjan. [Denish Ochieng, Standard] 

The Standard reached out to KPMG with questions on whether they had access to the original register and the scope of their audit.

“Due to client confidentiality, we are unable to comment on the enquiry below. Kindly reach out to IEBC for comments on the matter,” KPMG responded.

Mr Chebukati yesterday told journalists that KPMG was auditing a database of 22.5 million voters, saying that the report of the audit would be available “on or before June 9”.

“All the talk about the register should await the gazettement and publication of the register… the commission assures Kenyans that all their data is intact,” Chebukati said at the Bomas of Kenya.

The Standard has learnt that some parties in the IRI/NDI conference were concerned that inaccuracies in the voter register could lead to a nullification of the presidential results as well as other electoral posts.

Sources who were at the meeting, who sought anonymity, said that a leading political party, which will be fielding a top presidential contender in the August 9 polls, was ready to challenge the IEBC in court over the credibility of the register.

This comes amid reports that the IEBC’s electronic register had been breached, leading to an illegal mass transfer of voters, claims Chebukati denied yesterday, contradicting an initial memo by the CEO that confirmed the illegal transfer of voters.

“The commission has conducted some preliminary analysis of the Register of Voters and noted that there could be some transfer of voters which were effected without the supporting statutory forms,” Marjan said in a May 25 internal memo.

Issues about the voter register have emerged in the past, most especially so on the election day when voters were shocked to find their names missing.