Court suspends orders for IEBC to use manual register

IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati at the Bomas of Kenya. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The Court of Appeal has suspended orders directing Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to use a manual voter register as a backup for an electronic register.

Justices Fred Ochieng, Luka Kimaru, and Paul Gachoka said that United Democratic Alliance (UDA) had convinced them that it had a case against the verdict by Justice Thande Mugure requiring IEBC to use the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMs) alongside the manual register.

"Upon careful consideration of the issues in contention, we are of the considered opinion that the applicant has made a case for the grant of stay on the judgment of the High Court," the court ruled.

UDA's lawyer Elias Mutuma argued that there is a likelihood of a serious conflict and confusion on the mode of identification of voters during today's election.

Mutuma argued that the integrity of the General Election is likely to be compromised by the possibility of misuse of the manual voter register since it lacks a safeguard for enhancing the credibility of elections.

Justice Mugure, in her judgment, found that the Wafula Chebukati-led commission will be violating voters' rights in the event voters are turned back because the kits cannot identify them.

"What happens to a registered voter whose details cannot be picked by the KIEMs kit for fault or failure of technology? If this decision remains unchallenged, there is no doubt that voters' constitutional rights to vote will be violated," said Justice Mugure.

She continued: "The first respondent has failed to make administrative arrangements for the conduct of election to facilitate and not deny an eligible citizen the right to vote as required by the Constitution."

The judge asserted that although IEBC had violated the constitution and its own internal memo on the use of both registers.

She noted that no electronic device is foolproof, impenetrable, or incorruptible.

In the case, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki backed a bid to compel Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to use both electronic and manual voter registers for identification.

In his submissions, the AG faulted IEBC for indicating that it will not use a manual register to identify voters in the event the electronic voter identification kits fail.

AG, who is a government advisor, has taken the position of Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance that IEBC should take both electronic and manual registers for the identification of voters.

His stand on voter identification is different from that of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) which backs the use of electronic voter registration only.

UDA, on the other hand, backed IEBC's use of an electronic-only register.

In its argument, the Deputy President William Ruto-led party explained that there is a likelihood of returning officers voting for persons who do not appear to cast their votes in the event the IEBC relies on printed voter registers.

UDA's lawyer Elias Mutuma argued that instead, there should be a truncated voter register, which should only be used as a last option and with the authority of the commission.

The lawyer urged the court to dismiss the case.

"IEBC has put in place an adequate complementary mechanism for voters identification. There is alphanumeric identification, a truncated register and a list posted on the polling station. A truncated register is a register that conceals some of the details of voter registration. This is because previously, rogue officers would vote on behalf of those who did not," argued Mutuma.