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Kenya Elections: Why the IEBC Abandoned Electronic Transmission of Results

Updated on March 9, 2013
Omar Hassan: IEBC Chairman
Omar Hassan: IEBC Chairman

IEBC Abandons Electronic Vote Tallying

On Tuesday 5th March 2013, at around 8:30 pm, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission, Mr. Omar Hassan, convened a press conference and announced that the IEBC was going to abandon electronic transmission of the 2013 Kenya Presidential election vote results.

It was apparent that the IEBC was having a hard time using the new electronic system of voter registration and election result tallies that they had adopted. The BVR kits had started malfunctioning as soon as the elections started with some of them failing to boot altogether. when the tallying of the Kenya Presidential results started, it was all system goes, and the IEBC team couldn't actually wait to flaunt at everybody who cared to look their new plaything! They actually started displaying the results as they came in before the actual voting was actually over! Something that didn't sit quite well with some of presidential election contestants.

However, it was noted that the tallying of votes was taking quite some time to trickle in. The delay was blamed on Network congestion. Additionally the servers which were used to store the incoming results got jammed or full somewhere along the way! That was on the first day of starting to count the Kenya Presidential Votes. And just when we were cooling our heels, anticipating the results, the electronic voter tallying system comes to a complete standstill!

It is at this time when the IEBC Chairman convenes a press conference that does little in convincing the general public that all is well in his tuff. His speech sounds unconvincing and he hedges around questions by journalists; at one time declaring that they will have to relay the results manually, then stating that the IEBC is not yet abandoning the electronic voter tally system. The public is unconvinced.

He blames the faults on a massive number of voter turn out, which sounds more unconvincing. I mean, the IEBC knew very well it had registered over 14 million voters, so why would this 'massive voter turnout', which by the way happens to be just slightly over 5 million of the registered voters confuse them. What number of voters had the IEBC anticipated and prepared for in all that time they were telling us that they were ready to handle the most monumental election in the Kenya history? What is Omar Hassan and his IEBC team not telling us here?

What really made the IEBC abandon electronic vote transmission?

Here is what I think happened. In their haste and eagerness to flaunt the new system of vote transmission to whoever cared to look, the IEBC overdid itself. They started relaying the results a little soon; before they had some quintessential data that they needed to effectively relay them. They for example never took into mind that before showing the results they needed to know how many people actually had turned out to vote. The percentages they were showing for the vote results was therefore all mashed up since they were assuming all and sundry of the 14 million voters in Kenya turned out to vote.

But why not just adjust the numbers when they had the actual number of voters who turned out to vote? Simple. Such a move would have ignited the embers of the 2007/8 elections which took the country into the brink of civil war. You don't just mess around with numbers and expect wananchi to maintain calm. Few of them would understand why the numbers are being abruptly changed, and to avoid that the IEBC would rather have the remaining results relayed manually.

But what are the consequences of failing to admit this blunder that they made in their rush to flaunt and floss with the electronic wonder of vote result transmission? What would be the effect of pulling out of the electronic transmission of results by the IEBC?

The world is watching and following the 2013 Kenya presidential elections closely, and the IEBC needs to prove to the world that Kenya has grown up democratically since the mangled up elections of 2007/08. The stick lies with IEBC, so to speak. Kenya


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