August 9

American observers checklist for IEBC

Monday, July 4th, 2022 01:30 | By
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. PHOTO/John Ochieng
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. PHOTO/John Ochieng

International poll observers want the electoral commission to conduct a countrywide test on the result reporting system.

This, according to them, is to build confidence in poll results, address unexpected challenges and avoid surprises on election day. The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute said the results on the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) portal should follow Open Data principles for polling station level results to make them available in a timely, analysable, bulk form.

“IEBC should prioritise public communications related to the results transmission, including specifics of the chain of command and redundancies built into the process to safeguard its integrity and to manage expectations of the parties, the media, and the public regarding how and when results information will be available,” the observers said in a joint statement read by Lionel Johnson (pictured).

“Citizen observers should seek to independently verify election results to deter manipulation of the tabulation process,” the statement adds.

The two American observers have also asked political parties, candidates, and the media to act responsibly when reporting real-time results. It adds: “They should verify the information and refrain from drawing premature conclusions based on unrepresentative data”.

On election integrity, backups and fail-safes, the observers advised the courts to provide a timely resolution of the current debate on use of paper voter lists alongside electronic registers.

“Watchdogs and other stakeholders should increase awareness of the election day paper trail and available mechanisms such as audits or recounts to build trust in the results in the incidence of failure in the transmission technology,” they state.

Also, the polls team should prioritise strategic and regular communications with the media, as well as the public, including providing clear, responsive and timely information on all aspects of the electoral process, the observers say.

Counter false news

They reckon that IEBC should invest in social media monitoring and strategic communications to anticipate and counter misleading or false narratives.

They urge political actors and stakeholders to refrain from unfounded or misleading claims on the electoral process, and to hold accountable party members who spread false information.

“Technology platforms should bolster efforts to promote a healthy information environment ahead of, on and immediately after, election day,” they said.

The observers have also asked authorities to counter hate speech and mitigate violence against women candidates, as well as deter election-related disinformation, especially at vulnerable times, such as the counting, transmission and announcement of election results.

Regarding the campaigns, they say political parties and candidates should demonstrate commitment to peace before, during, and after elections by publicly endorsing and adhering to the Electoral Code of Conduct and other peace pledges.

On inclusion, they urge all key stakeholders, political parties, IEBC, civil society, media, and the security sector to put in place urgent measures to remove obstacles that hinder the full participation of women, young people, persons with disabilities, and other marginalised groups.

The IEBC should facilitate voting by persons with disabilities and other limitations, including locating polling places at ground level, thereby permitting such voters priority placement in long lines, they state.

The observers add that voter education should be accelerated throughout the country with a focus on election day procedures and the post-election process and specific outreach to women, youth and persons with disabilities.

Political parties should deploy trained representatives to polling stations and ensure that they adhere to the IEBC's s code of conduct.

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