IEBC wants polls staggered to ease counting of ballots

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has reiterated the need for elections in Kenya to be staggered to allow for a smooth process devoid of the perennial chaotic scenes which are normally witnessed after the final results are announced.

In a raft of recommendations tabled before the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, the electoral body insists that staggered elections should be done such that the county and national elections are conducted on different dates.

Commissioner Boya Molu who appeared before the Samson Cherarkey (Nandi)-led committee on Tuesday maintained that such a plan if enacted in law would go a long way in easing the conduct of the every so often acrimonious General Election in the country.

Molu cited fatigue that is usually depicted by electoral officials due to the “demanding exercise” as part of the key reasons why a departure from the current situation where voters cast their ballot for six representatives would prove to be pivotal in averting future chaos.

“We had a situation in the past election where 35 candidates competed for a Member of County Assembly seat and a returning officer was expected to count the individual votes of all the candidates and also for all five remaining positions. At the headquarters we are also demanding presidential results from the same individual who has not had sleep for almost three days,” he said.

He pleaded with the Senators to consider the agency’s request and amend the law before the 2022 polls.

Senator Susan Kihika (Nakuru) however advised the agency to invest heavily in appropriate technology that would aid in easing the electoral process.

She protested that the commission before an election cycle is usually allocated a huge chunk of resources while insisting that it was incumbent upon the electoral body to ensure that the process is smooth.

“Conducting an election in the country is one of the most expensive affairs yet we rarely see the value for money. The commission needs to use the money it is given in investing in the right technology because with the right technology the processes will also be simplified,” she said.

Senator James Orengo (Siaya) maintained that the agency which has over the years been tainted with a bad image should do more to instil public confidence especially ahead of the 2022 polls.

He lamented that it was discouraging to see discontented parties after every election period castigating the agency for overseeing a rigged election.

“Presidential elections are fought harder in other countries like Brazil, India and Indonesia but results are always accepted. The agency should focus on ensuring that even here in Kenya the results are accepted once the final results are announced,” he said.

Other recommendations fronted by the agency included the timely allocation of funds, which Molu insisted that more often than not is done during the last stage, a situation which he regretted highly affects the agency’s calendar of activities.

Molu further suggested that commissioners should be appointed to be in office the entire electoral cycle arguing this would aid the commissioners in familiarizing themselves with the electoral process instead of relying on the secretariat.

Changing the ligation timeline of the presidential petition from the current 14 days to a period of 30 days was also another recommendation that Molu advised the House to consider, arguing that at times the commission lacks the legal capacity to handle election petitions.

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