Electronic voting plan on track

Monday January 4 2010

By OLIVER MATHENGE

Eleven firms have submitted bids to provide a digital voter registration system in a tendering process that closed on Monday.

The firms were among 33 that had expressed interest when the tender was advertised last month. Most are international, but some are incorporated locally.

Last week, a firm expressed doubts over the viability of the project in accordance with the tender documents provided. It said that given the requirements the Interim Independent Electoral Commission had given in the tender documents, it was impossible to register 18 million voters in the time provided.

However, the commission’s public communications officer, Mr Andrew Limo, yesterday said it was misleading for the firm to indicate that the winner of the tender would be expected to conduct registration in all constituencies ahead of the referendum expected mid this year.

“We will only be registering voters electronically in 1,299 out of 26,000 centres on a pilot basis which is an insignificant number. We expect to start the voter registration in February,” he said.

The constituencies in which voters will be registered electronically include Kamukunji, Langata, Mvita, Malindi, Dujis, Laisamis, Isiolo South, Central Imenti, Machakos Town and Nyeri Town

Others are Kikuyu, Eldoret North, Nakuru Town, Ainamoi, Ikolomani, Webuye, Kisumu Town West and Kitutu Chache

The IIEC expects to start nationwide voter registration next month for a period of four months ahead of a referendum on a new constitution.

Election Systems and Software, one of the world’s largest firms offering electronic voting solutions, has cast doubts on the plan indicating why it had failed to tender for the job.

“From a pure time line perspective, it is believed the general task of accomplishing registering 18 million voters countrywide in less than nine weeks appears to be an impossible task,” a brief from Mr Brian Brucker, International Sales Manager, reads.

The US based company had planned to launch a bid in Kenya in conjunction with local firm, Circuits and Packets Limited.

However it declined to submit a tender for the job unless the scanning technology specification was changed, saying it was prone to errors.