Seven NGOs file case to compel IEBC to use manual voter register in August 9 poll

The Kenya Human Rights Commission and six lobbies have moved to court seeking to compel the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to use manual voter registers in every polling station in the upcoming polls.

The move comes weeks after IEBC, in what is viewed as a shift from tradition, announced that it would only rely on a digital register to serve the 22.1 million voters and avoid manipulation of the polling exercise.

In the petition filed by seven petitioners on Tuesday, June 21, the seven civil society organisations want the courts to quash the decision by the electoral commission to use digital voter registers only in the August 9 General Election.

The commission had in a letter dated June 10, stated that it shall not use a manual register of voters in the general elections scheduled for Tuesday 9th August 2022.

“An order of declaration that the 1st and 2nd Respondents shall in the conduct of the general elections on Tuesday 9th August 2022 provide a manual register of voters in every polling station in Kenya to be used to identify voters in strict compliance with the provisions of Regulation 69(1) (e) of the Elections (General) regulations,” the petition read in part.

“An order of declaration that the 1st and 2nd Respondents have a Constitutional mandate to take all the necessary and logical steps to ensure that the Petitioners’ and the citizens’ rights under Articles 38 as reading together with Article 83 (3) of the Constitution are observed, respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled;”

The petitioners in the matter are the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Katiba Institute, Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Haki Yetu, Inuka Kenya Ni Sisi Limited, and Africa Centre for Governance, Constitution and Reform Education Consortium.

The seven have filed a petition against the IEBC, Wafula Chebukati, and The Office of the Attorney General.

The petitioners have also argued that the IEBC have a Constitutional mandate to take all the necessary and logical steps to ensure administrative arrangements for the registration of voters and the conduct of elections.

They say ‘the identification of voters during the August 2022 election is designed to facilitate, and not deny, an eligible citizen the right to vote in the election’.

On Monday, the electoral agency announced that the August 9 elections will be conducted without a physical voter register.

The decision has sparked fears of some people being locked out from voting, given the lack of an alternative voter identification method.

During the 2017 General Election, approximately 2.5 million voters had to rely on the physical register after verification of their details failed due to poor quality of the fingerprints, exposure of KIEMs kits to weather elements and technical failure of some kits.

The fears are also compounded by the fact that an additional 1,200 polling stations, representing approximately one million presidential voters, are not connected to a 3G or 4G network, which could interfere with the transmission of the presidential results