IEBC blames security agencies for delays

A Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) Kit in use on August 9, 2022. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Technological failures marred the elections process in several parts of the country delaying voting by more than six hours as the electoral commission blamed the shortcomings on interference by security agencies.

In a statement yesterday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) attributed some of the challenges experienced in the elections, especially the deployment of backup Kenya Integrated Election Management Systems (Kiems) kits, to the confiscation of election stickers by law enforcement agencies.

They said this delayed the dispatch of election materials.

IEBC was forced to use the manual register in more than 200 polling stations after the biometric voters identification kits failed. "Some of the Kiems kits were actually held in our warehouse because of the issue of the stickers, so that could have also contributed. It's a challenge that we saw in Kakamega," commission CEO Marjan Hussein said.

He said that while the commission had back up Kiems kits, it was unable to deploy most of them due to logistical challenges caused by the confiscation of stickers used to label election materials for distribution.

He said that incident involving Venezuelan nationals held at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last month for being in possession of election materials, brought about delays in dispatch. "In the areas that we used the manual register we had tested even the backup but there was a challenge arising from logistics," said Marjan. 

IEBC had 55,100 Kiems kits and deployed 46,229 to the polling centres, the rest were reserved as backup.

For the backup Kiems kits to work, he said, the commission needed to duplicate its memory card which involved not just picking the biometrics of a specific region but the biography of the entire country as well. "So if you take it to a different place that machine will not work in that specific area. That was one of the biggest challenges," he said.

But Marjan said that the commission had airlifted Kiems kits memory cards to Kakamega to avoid hitches during results transmission. "We are also going to increase time in those areas so they can vote for equivalent time lost," he said.

The commission said that the failures of the Kiems kits were negligible. "We are talking about 200 or so, that is not a bad rate of success. We are going to investigate what could have happened and next time we are not going to get any failure," commissioner Francis Wanderi said.

IEBC permitted the use of the manual voters register in some polling stations in Makueni and Kakamega counties due to technological failure of the Kiems kit.

Those affected were 84 polling stations in Kibwezi West Constituency in Makueni and 154 polling stations in Malava, Matungu, Mumias East and Mumias West constituencies in Kakamega. 

"ICT officers are on the ground, when they are called upon at the polling station they check the kit and ascertain that it is a failure of the kit and not any other failure," IEBC said. 

At Cheberem polling station in Endebbes Constituency, only five out of the 1,147 registered voters had voted by 8am. Nyakinywa polling station  also experienced challenges as the faulty kits could not identify voters.

The same was the case at Naisambu Primary School in Kiminini's Hospital ward where voting was delayed by an hour.

Some voters were turned away after the kits failed to identify them. In Nyeri, 17 voters could not be identified by Kiems kits at the Kiamugumo Primary School in Gichugu Constituency. Susan Njeri, a presiding officer at the station said they used a "supervisor mode" to identify them.

In Western Kenya, some voters in Shinyalu's Isukha South Ward returned home in protest after the Kiems kits failed to operate in most polling streams.

"The kits could not verify the QR code. We called the Kakamega ICT team repeatedly but there was no urgent response," said Caroline Abungana, the presiding officer at Shikusi Health Centre. 

[Reporting by Allan Mungai, Martin Ndiema, Robert Amalemba, Renson Nyamwezi and Jane Mugambi]

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