Nasa to use Ghana-like strategy to guard against rigging

Sunday March 5 2017

National Super Alliance (Nasa) co-principals Raila Odinga (right), Musalia Mudavadi (centre) and Kalonzo Musyoka addressing journalists at Capitol Hill in Nairobi on March 2, 2017.

National Super Alliance (Nasa) co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka (left) Musalia Mudavadi (centre) and Raila Odinga addressing journalists at Capitol Hill in Nairobi on March 2, 2017. Nasa has crafted a strategy to guard its votes and tabulate results in the August elections. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NYAMBEGA GISESA
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The National Super Alliance (Nasa) has crafted a strategy similar to the one used by Ghana’s Opposition party to guard its votes and tabulate results in the August elections.

A robust Opposition plan last December has been credited for the win by opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) against incumbent John Mahama’s National Democratic Congress.

One controversial strategy in Ghana, which Nasa has as part of its plan, involved tallying of votes before the electoral commission officially announced results.

Orange leader Raila Odinga has told the Nation that Kenya’s Opposition will adopt the voter monitoring and transmission strategy employed by NPP. In January, Mr Odinga travelled to Ghana for the inauguration of Mr Akufo-Addo.

During the visit, the Opposition chief held talks with Mr Addo and other key NPP campaigners about the concept. Since then, the Nasa secretariat has been in communication with NPP. Deputy President William Ruto led the official government delegation.

Mr Addo, an age-mate of Mr Odinga’s, created a system in which party and polling agents monitored votes from the stations and transmitted them immediately after counting was done at the centres. They used innovative technology to set up data systems that linked all the 29,000 polling stations across the country with the 275 parliamentary constituencies.

The system was led by the party’s director of technology, Mr Joe Anokye, an expert on data systems, who had been working for the American National Space Agency before he took up the challenge.

BALLOT PROTECTION SYSTEM

Mr Odinga describes the ballot-protection system as foolproof, adding that it makes it “mathematically impossible” for the electoral commission to “do monkey business with votes” as the system focuses of three key areas of results management: speed, accuracy and timeliness.

If the Ghana model is fully implemented, the opposition will have thousands of poll monitors and agents who will be tasked with concentrating on the presidential votes.
“The adopt-a-polling station policy will help us collect intelligence from the grassroots, monitor campaigns, mobilise voters to go and cast votes, guard the votes and transmit the results to the national tallying centres in real time,” Mr Odinga said.

During his visit to Meru, the former Prime Minister hinted at the plan, saying it was important to “detect and deter any incidents of vote stealing” which will be reported “ directly to our headquarters”.

University of Nairobi don Adams Oloo, who is part of Mr Odinga’s campaign secretariat, says that the opposition team is in the process of recruiting people to implement the concept.

“We analysed our campaigns and found out that as an opposition we face two major challenges. First, unlike a government, we do not have as much resources.

Secondly, we don’t have adequate human resources from the grassroots to the national levels. The ruling party can depend on the provincial administration, which is represented by the current regional and county commissioners and chiefs,” he said.

Dr Oloo explained that the model the opposition will use will help solve the two problems. “There are people who will be employed to carry out various tasks. Then we will depend on a sea of volunteers. Already, we have several requests from people across the country who want to get involved,” he said.

Dr Oloo says that the agents’ main mission will be to concentrate on the presidential vote.

ADOPT POLLING STATION POLICY

Under the adopt-a-polling station policy, there will be a national elections coordinator who will be responsible for the presidential votes. Under the national elections coordinator, there will be regional coordinators covering 16 regions.

For instance, the counties of Nyamira, Kisii, Homa Bay and Migori will be under South Nyanza region while Tharaka Nithi, Embu and Meru belong to the Mount Kenya East region.

Then there will be a coordinator for every county and constituency, bringing the total to 47 and 290 respectively.

At the polling stations, the coalition will depend on volunteers who will adopt a polling station for the expected 57,331 polling stations.

Last year, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said the country is projected to have 57,331 polling stations based on information that each polling station will have at most 500 registered voters.

However, Parliament later amended the law to state that a polling station will not have more than 700 registered voters. Since then, the IEBC has not reviewed its numbers downwards.

“The volunteers will be responsible for civic education, mobilising and supporting at least three agents who will be stationed at a polling station,” Mr Odinga said.

The first agent will be responsible for taking videos and photos of various electoral materials, including Forms 34 and 36, while the second one will be stationed inside the polling station to monitor the voting exercise and guard votes. The last one will be outside the polling station to guide voters.

“Our votes have been stolen before because we failed to have an effective system to monitor votes,” said Mr Odinga.