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Lack of 3G network could hamper results transmission

The Star logo The Star 24/03/2022 by JULIUS OTIENO
  • In 2017, presidential results from 11, 155 stations were not transmitted electronically.
  • This was despite the commission’s heavy investment in technology due to lack of 3G network.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati at a past event.

Image: Twitter, IEBC.

The electronic transmission of presidential results in 2,800 centres hangs in the balance after it emerged they are yet to be connected to 3G network.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati on Thursday said the Communications Authority of Kenya has not connected them to the required network to enable them transmit the results electronically.

The registration and voting centres with several polling stations were established after the 2017 election to cater for the projected increase in the number of voters in the August 9 election.

“We shall be transmitting for the presidential elections the image of Form 34A, [but] we cannot transmit image without 3G network and above,” he said.

Chebukati spoke when he appeared before the Senate Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee to explain election preparedness.

The nine-member committee is chaired by Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni.

The chairman said out of the 2,800 centres across the country, the commission managed to collect GPS coordinates of 2,603 and forwarded the same to the CA to connect the centres.

However, the commission said that the authority, headed by immediate former IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba, did not report on the progress to connect the areas to the network.

“I believe this should be done sooner than later because we need to know and the country needs to know which areas have network and which ones do not,” Chebukati said.

The revelations triggered a barrage of questions from the senators, rekindling memories of the 2017 election when the agency failed to transmit the presidential results electronically due to lack or poor network.

"Are you telling Kenyans that there is a likelihood that we could get to these elections and there are areas where we would not be able to do transmission because there is no 3G network?” Omogeni said.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr termed the issue as serious.

He said the commission was not handling the matter with the serious it deserves despite it being at the centre of the Supreme Court case where presidential results were nullified.

“In presidential election results transmission legal framework which I participated in drafting, the commission was supposed to issue a report within a year on audit of transmission of results,” he said.

In 2017, presidential results from 11, 155 stations were not transmitted electronically despite the commission’s heavy investment in technology due to lack of 3G network.

The move forced the IEBC to use their constituency returning officers to physically deliver the presidential results to the national tallying centre in Nairobi.

The failure of the gadgets to scan the forms and transmit results to Nairobi formed the basis of Raila Odinga’s case against the IEBC and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Already, the electoral agency has proposed changes to the election laws that would see physically transmitted results given precedence over electronic transmission.

In proposed changes to the election laws, the IEBC wants Parliament to pave the way for both manual and electronic transmission of presidential results

“This is so that where it is not possible to transmit results, they can move to a place in search of network with security officers,” the commission told a parliamentary committee last week.

Yesterday, the commission’s CEO Marjan Hussein said the commission has already identified and shared with the CA coordinates of the connectivity.

“They returned about 486 polling stations and said that we should give more information regarding the coordinates,” Marjan said.

Meanwhile, the IEBC referred to the DPP Noordin Haji for investigations claims by Deputy President William Ruto that the state plots to rig the upcoming presidential poll in favour of Raila.

The chairman said the commission does not have the capacity to investigate the utterances as they were made outside the country. DP had made the allegations during his recent trip to the US.

Chebukati said the commission was barred by the courts from prosecuting the case against Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege who claimed Jubilee rigged the 2017 election.

He, however, sought to assure the country of the commission’s commitment to deliver credible elections.

Chebukati further said the electoral agency has procured up to 95 per cent of the required materials.

Marjan said the commission procured a firm that is set to audit voters’ register after the conclusion of the enhanced mass voter registration that netted 2.8 million new voters.

“We wrote to the civil registry to provide us with the information on dead voters. We got a figure of approximately 250,000. These are the figures that we are going to deactivate from our register,” he said.

The commission will procure 134,000 ballot boxes to replace the old ones and those that have been destroyed as well as cater to the new voters.

Chebukati said the commission formed a joint technical working committee with the Registrar of Political Parties.

The committee will oversee the implementation of the new political parties’ law and ensure the parties and politicians adhere to the set timelines.

(edited by Amol Awuor)

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