Fraud fears as IEBC turns to old poll kit
Posted Wednesday, August 1 2012 at 22:30
The electoral commission on Wednesday said it will take measures to eliminate fraud during the election, even though it has shelved plans to deploy biometric equipment. Read (Biometric registration kit saga has badly dented IEBC’s image)
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission intended to buy Sh3.9 billion worth of equipment to enable it use fingerprints and facial imagery to identify voters.
However, whereas the system is perfect for eliminating impersonation, multiple voting and other forms of fraud that were common during the last election, the commission was unable to procure it because of what are said to be boardroom wars between commissioners and the secretariat.
The commission said it plans to register 18 million voters, even as it grapples with the risks posed by the manual registration system.
For the first time, Kenyans will not be required to go to the polling stations with a voter’s card in order to cast their votes.
The commission formally cancelled the biometric voter registration tender and said it will embark on the exercise immediately after the by-elections set for September 17 in Ndhiwa, Kajiado North and Kangema constituencies.
It also moved to assure Kenyans of its determination to supervise a free, fair and open election without the biometric system, seeking to allay fears of a repeat of the errors discovered in the voter’s roll in 2007 by the Kriegler commission.
IEBC chief executive James Oswago said they will register all voters afresh, issue them with new voter’s cards and in the process rid the current register of ghost voters.
“We will register all the 12 million Kenyans who had been enrolled before the referendum and six million new voters will also be given an opportunity to register,” he said on phone.
The 12.4 million voters were registered by the then Interim Independent Electoral Commission in preparation for 2010 referendum on the new Constitution.
Out of the 12.4 million, 1.5 million in 18 constituencies were registered electronically using the biometric voter registration system.
Commission chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan, as he formally cancelled the controversial tender which was gradually eroding the confidence of Kenyans in the IEBC, said they will recruit a large number of registration clerks and have them work for long hours to meet the timelines.
He said the tender was cancelled because of the controversy surrounding it and said they will use the manual system, also known as the Optical Mark Readers system, which they applied during the referendum and in the 12 by-elections that have been held after the 2007 elections.
Politicians and the civil society have exerted pressure on the commission to cancel the tender and restart the process to give Kenyans confidence that the IEBC will deliver a free and fair election.
Four companies — 4G Identity Solutions, Symphony, Face Technology and On Track Innovations — had been shortlisted as the front runners for the tender, which involved the supply of 9,700 registration kits.
Face Technology and On Track Innovations were later dropped. The multi-billion shilling tender sparked an intensive boardroom war at the IEBC pitting the commissioners against the secretariat.
Mr Hassan said: “We assure Kenyans that OMR voter register was used in the 2010 Referendum, in all 12 by-elections and 50 civic wards. This register with over 12.4 million voters is valid.
“The commission intends to employ a larger number of clerks, for longer periods during the voter registration exercise. The electronic voter registration will, however, continue to be used where they were piloted.”
The commission said it will deploy large servers to clean the voters’ register and detect duplications that could come out of scanning.