IEBC says main challenge is eruption of chaos during 2022 election
Just over 13 months to the General Election, the electoral body IEBC is concerned that political violence, last minute electoral law reviews and technology deficiencies could be the biggest threat to the success of the election.
IEBC in its strategic framework has proposed means to surmounting the challenges and is counting on Parliament in pursuing crucial amendments.
As the election calendar inches closer to the official start, IEBC is already mapping key challenges, threats and interventions to surmount them.
With the aftermath of the disputed 2017 elections still in memory, IEBC fears poll related violence could pose a big challenge. They fear should politicians refuse to accept results, it could be a trigger to tensions. The commission’s staff too could be profiled with direct attacks feared, now calling on proper security planning with relevant authorities.
In 2017, several amendments were enacted to election laws necessitating late adjustments by IEBC. The commission fearing a repeat of the same could be disruptive but also calling for review of laws that were difficult to implement in 2017, some of them that led to challenges picked out at the presidential election petition, leading to nullification of Uhuru Kenyatta’s election.
In that election, several of IEBC’s procurement decisions were challenged in court, delaying crucial processes like procurement of presidential ballot papers.
And from the litany of law reviews, deployment of election technology was hampered. At the moment, IEBC says Biometric voter registration kits used for 2013 and 2017 elections have become obsolete. They are now proposing improvement of the KIEMS kits to be used for registration of voters.
IEBC fears malfunctioning ICT systems and equipment could derail the electoral process. Overreliance on vendors of ICT equipment to offer crucial support services has been picked as a challenge. Cyber security threat is also a consideration as IEBC hopes to have different servers for transmission of results.
To pre-empt the challenges, IEBC must now upgrade its ICT systems. To do so, they are seeking timely release of funds from the National Treasury for proper ICT deployment with necessary security systems.
IEBC had hoped for Treasury to allow them conduct direct procurement of ICT equipment. CS Yatani announced in his budget last week that government departments and agencies can begin to do so starting this July.
The commission is also concerned about the delayed recruitment of four remaining commissioners which hampers the preparedness of the commission. And as the recruitment panel hopes to begin interviews of shortlisted candidates in July, new commissioners may face a steep learning curve into the election cycle.
IEBC may have to conduct a nationwide mass voter registration ahead of the election meaning quick action on the KIEMS kits will be required even as an audit of functional gadgets may become a requirement.
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