August 9

IEBC faces tough questions over voters transfer

Friday, June 10th, 2022 03:20 | By
Saitabao ole Kanchory, chief agent of Azimio-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga, speaks at the Bomas of Kenya during yesterday’s testing and simulation of result transmission system. PD/JOHN OCHIENG

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has found itself on the spot over a list of voters believed to have been transferred without their consent, registered twice or affected by other irregularities.

Sources inside the commission said the issue of voters being transferred without their consent had divided the commissioners, who have until June 16 to clean up the register in readiness for the August 9 election.

On Wednesday night, commission chairman Wafula Chebukati acknowledged that more than 246,000 voters listed in the register were dead. Another 481,711 had duplicate records while 226,143 were registered using identity cards that did not validly belong to them. He also said that 164,269 others were registered with invalid identification documents.

That means over 1.1 million voters out of about 22.4 million could be affected by the irregularities. KPMG, the company hired to audit the register, said on Wednesday night that the electoral commission must address the irregularities before the audit firm can endorse the register.

The revelations have raised questions about IEBC’s capacity to conduct a free, fair and transparent General Election with less than 60 days to the D-day. Despite the pressure it is facing, Chebukati said the commission was moving on with preparations for the elections.

“We have our election plans which we have been following… The commission will deliver to Kenyans a free, fair and credible election come August 9,” he said.

A section of commissioners has been pushing for the inclusion of “invalidly transferred” voters in the final tally of 22.4 million registered voters arguing that removing them would land the agency in legal problems.

IEBC has also found itself between a rock and a hard place after KPMG vowed not to append its signature to the final report “unless all the glaring errors unearthed” by the audit of the voter's register are corrected.

In response, the commission has instituted investigations to smoke out the officials behind the alleged illegal transfer of the high number of voters from some regions. The investigations are also expected to find the reasons behind the move and the legal implications. “These issues must be addressed prior to certification and publication of the register.

Previously, the Commission had announced that it will certify and publish the register of voters before June 9,” Chebukati said at a press briefing at Bomas of Kenya when he announced that the massive anomalies had forced his team to postpone the release of the report to June 20.

Hardest hit

The voters’ register was to be published yesterday. The new date of June 20 was arrived at to give the commission time to implement the findings of KPMG’s preliminary report.

Whereas Chebukati kept his cool, it was KPMG’s Head of Advisory, Gerald Kasimu, who appeared to let the cat out of the bag when he said some of the auditors’ recommendations would require investigations before they can be fully verified.

“There are a number of claims made in regards to the verification that calls for updates to the register,” Kasimu said. “You may have witnessed complaints about transfers… There are certain voters that have raised concern about being transferred from areas they had registered to areas they did not wish to vote at.” IEBC insiders told People Daily that Nyeri was the hardest hit by the alleged illegal transfers, with hundreds of voters transferred to areas in North Eastern such as Wajir and Garissa without their knowledge.

Other areas hard hit are said to be Mars abit, Bomet, Tana River, Kitui, Makueni, Kisii, West Pokot and Kilifi counties.

Blame game

According to IEBC regulations formulated in 2017, a transfer can only happen after a voter formally requests for it. This can only be done from the constituency headquarters. On request, the voter is then given a form - Form 1C - to fill before a registration officer effects the transfer.

Interested individuals must also have an original ID card and its copy, which ought to be left behind for future reference. Sources now say the discovered transfers seem to have been carried out irregularly without the voters’ consent, filling of forms and a copy of ID left in the custody of IEBC officials who effect the transfer.

Other sources absolved IEBC registration clerks from blame and instead said the buck stops with the officials at the headquarters who have the system’s password. The source also claimed that the agency’s virtual private network (VPN) for transfer of voters was too weak to accommodate the mass transfer of voters.

Revelations made by KPMG are likely to push IEBC into a corner, coming only two weeks after Deputy President William Ruto claimed that more than one million voters from his strongholds had been deleted from the register in an alleged attempt to rig the August elections.

Speaking during a consultative meeting with European Union ambassadors, Ruto alleged that some IEBC and government officials were working to sabotage the elections.

“You have seen in the media that there was an attempt to obliterate names from the IEBC register, and so far about a million names have somehow disappeared from the IEBC register... and I think that the IEBC has said it is taking some remedial steps,” he told the envoys.

But Chebukati dismissed Ruto’s claims, saying that the register was intact. “The data on the register of voters is intact, we had 19.5 million voters in 2017 and now have a database of 22.5 million-plus voters,” Chebukati said then.

Illegal transfers

However, a few days later, he made an about-turn and admitted that there had been illegal transfers of voters. Chebukati said IEBC had launched investigations into the illegal transfers affecting its electronic register and promised that any individual transferred without their knowledge would be returned to their correct voting station.

Yesterday, IEBC commissioner Justus Nyang’aya said the investigations would establish the truth behind the irregularities discovered by the audit. “We are determined to undertake an exercise that all Kenyans can have faith and trust in,” he said.

The investigations will determine whether the 1.1 million voters are genuine or not, and who made the transfers”.

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