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OPINION: Poll law changes will address illegalities and irregularities judges cited
By David Kigochi | Updated Oct 13, 2017 at 08:07 EAT
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The five Judges of the Supreme Court
SUMMARY
  • The proposed changes to election laws have elicited mixed reactions which is healthy in any democracy such as Kenya.
  • Parliament is the constitutional organ where the will of Kenyans is expressed, through their legislators.
As expected, the proposed changes to election laws have elicited mixed reactions which is healthy in any democracy such as Kenya. But despite what different people are saying, these changes should be supported by all as they are meant to address the irregularities and illegalities the majority judges cited as grounds for the nullification of the August 8 presidential elections by the Supreme Court of Kenya. We must also note Chief Justice David Maraga cautioned the Supreme Court would not hesitate to nullify the repeat presidential election if the same irregularities and illegalities reoccur. That is why I am disheartened by the decision by NASA legislators not to participate in amending the laws. They claim adequate consultations were not made, which is just an excuse. It is important that NASA supports this crucial journey to ensure the repeat presidential election is free, credible, and fair, just as they wanted. After all, Parliament is the constitutional organ where the will of Kenyans is expressed, through their legislators. The amendments fully entrench recognition that the voters expresses their will through the ballot. The method of transmission, whether electronic or manual, is simply a process of taking the will of the voter to the national tallying centre. Hence, minor discrepancies in transmission should not be used as grounds to nullify a presidential election. The proposal to provide an avenue where, in the absence of the IEBC chairman or his deputy, any other commissioner can step in to announce the final results or oversee any other business, is critical as it shields the commission from being held hostage by anyone or a group of individuals. The amendments also provide stiff penalties for returning officers who try to subvert the will of voters by falsifying or interfering with results. It is sad to hear the judges may have unknowingly relied on forged documents to nullify the presidential election. They reinforce the fact the ballot is the only proof of the voter’s will and that in case of a dispute, the best recourse is to reopen the ballot boxes for a recount of the votes. The possibility of hackers altering the will of the people will also be eliminated. There will be no claims of computer-generated leaders as data submitted electronically will be affirmed by that contained in forms 34A and 34B, which the returning officers must certify. But MPs should reconsider some clauses in the procedure at presidential elections so that they can still go on even in the event of unforeseen hurdles.
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