August 9

Kiems kits hitch mars voting as 200 fail to work

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 10:30 | By
A Voter at Kitui Central Primary School polling station in Kitui County during yesterday’s voting PD/paul mutua
A Voter at Kitui Central Primary School polling station in Kitui County during yesterday’s voting PD/paul mutua

Over 200 Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (Kiems) kits failed to recognise voters in yesterday’s General Election, forcing the country’s electoral body to authorize the use of a manual register.

 Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said there were failures of the Kiems kits in Kakamega and Makueni counties and some parts of the country that forced the commission to revert to the use of the manual register to allow voters to cast their ballots.

 In their update, IEBC vice chairperson Juliana Cherera said the commission was working with its ICT officers to resolve any reported issues on Kiems kits by the Returning and Presiding Officers.

 “The commission has, therefore, authorised the use of manual register in Makueni County (Kibwezi West constituency) for 84 polling stations. Kakamega county (Malava, Matungu and Mumias East) constituencies for 154 polling stations,” said Cherera.

 She said that the commission has also provided six backup Kiems kits per ward in the event of a failure.

 During a press briefing at the National Tallying Centre, Commissioner Justus Nyang’aya said that the Kiems kits failure was minimal, adding that out of the 46,229 Kiems kits, only a paltry 200 had failed.

 “The failures are not widespread. Out of the 46,229 kits, only 200 have failed and we have authorised the use of manual registers,” said Nyang’aya.

 The move by IEBC came hours after Kenyans who had lined up to cast their votes in various parts of the country reported that the kits were unable to identify them.

 Kenya Kwanza presidential running mate, Rigathi Gachagua, was among those who experienced challenges when voting as the kits had initially failed to recognize his finger prints.

  “I’m highly impressed by the high level of preparedness by the IEBC and the high voter turnout despite a few hitches here and there, where the KIEMS kit could not identify voters immediately like in my case, I believe they will deliver a free and fair election,” he said.

ODM clarification

 Raila Odinga’s legal advisor Paul Mwangi also wrote to IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati demanding that he issues a clarification authorising the use of manual register in the event the Kiems kits failed in accordance with the ruling of the Court of Appeal case.

 Mwangi also asked Chebukati to announce the number of polling stations voting was yet to begin and those that delayed voting as well as announce an extension for such time to all areas that the kits failed.

 In its letter to the elctoral commission, Azimio la Umoja’s Chief Legal Advisor Paul Mwangi demanded that they should issue a public clarification to the voting Kenyans and the electoral officials that the manual voter registers shall be used in the event of the failure of the kits.

“You announce to the Republic all the polling stations that are yet to begin or have delayed, the beginning of voting because of failure of Kiems kits. You announce an extension for such time as is necessary to give window to all areas that Kiems kits have failed,” said Mwangi.

Yesterday, the Chief Legal advisor urged the commission to stop treating the use of the complimentary system of voting in the cavalier manner it has done so far despite the warning and protestation.

Mwangi argued despite Court of Appeal ruling upholding the use of the manual registers in the event of a total failure of technology, the electoral officers received information that the manual register shall not be used.

“Chairman, you and your commissioners are in the process of executing a flagrant contempt of court and worse, a heinous electoral offense,” charged Mwangi.

 By midday yesterday, voting had not started in a number of the polling stations especially in Shinyalu, Malava and Mumias East constituencies. Kakamega Woman Representative Elsie Muhanda took issue with IEBC officials, and demanded that they revert to manual voter register as well as extend the period of voting in the affected centres.

  “We blame Chebukati (chairman IEBC), first for giving Kakamega county wrong gubernatorial ballots and now the failed Kiems kits,” Muhanda complained.

 Some of the polling stations adversely affected by the malfunction of the kits were Likhovelo, Murhanda, Shihuli Sikusi, Ivuhi and Ilero in Shinyalu constituency.

 Others are Sambuli, Shikokwe, MaliMali, Lunyu, Matende, Kimang’eti Manda Shirungu and Fubuye primary schools polling stations in Malava C constituency and Khaimba polling station in Mumias East among others.

 In Nairobi, confusion and delays were the order of the day in most polling stations due to Kiems kit challenges. For instance in Makadara constituency, close to over five polling stations had recorded challenges with the use of the kits.  At St Patrick’s Primary School the kits provided displayed details of Viwandani polling station.

 “We came here very early in the morning but we have not voted. When we enquire they tell us that they are working on the KIEMS kit. We thought IEBC was well prepared before but as it appears, there is a lot to be done,” said Oyango Ogutu, a voter in St. Patricks Primary School.

 At Dr Krapf Primary School Centre, voters who started streaming in at the venue an hour before the official 6.00 am set for the commencement of the exercise complained that they did not find their names in the register and faulted the use of the electronic system for their predicament.

  “We did not find our names and wonder what could happen if there was a breakdown in the digital system being used?,’’ posed Moses Mwangi who said he woke up at 4.00 pm ready to vote for his favorite candidate.

 The situation at St Paul’s Primary School in Mbotela was more or less the same as the polling registration banners indicated Westlands, Parklands, Highrise and Kamiti stations, thus confusing voters amidst heavy presence of security personnel.  In Malindi and Kilifi North constituencies, voting was delayed in a number of polling stations (Kiems) as kits failed to operate.

Completely failed

 One of the kits at the Dabaso Primary School Polling Centre completely failed to work, forcing voters to remain in the queue for more than two hours as they waited for another kit to be brought from the constituency-tallying centre in Kilifi county.

 Some of the voters complained that they had arrived at the Polling Centre as early as 3.00 am with the hope of casting their votes only to be forced to wait till 8.30 am when ICT officers brought the remaining kit.

 Kilifi gubernatorial candidate, Gideon Mung’aro, who is vying on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party, said a backup manual register would have been handy in handling the matter.

 A similar hitch was witnessed at the Malindi Central Primary School in the Malindi constituency where a kit in one of the Polling Stations, failed at about 11.30 am, forcing the process to be halted as officers tried their best to rectify the anomaly.

 United Democratic Alliance (UDA) gubernatorial candidate, Aisha Jumwa, was the first to cast her vote at the Kakuyuni Boys Secondary School shortly after 6.30 am where she complained that the process was too slow. Her mother, who was just after her could not be identified through the KIEMS kit and by the time journalists left the polling station, she had not yet voted as election officials sought alternative means of identifying her, including through facial identification.

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