IEBC 2017 election transmission plan to reduce disputes

IEBC official follows results at the national tallying centre during the March 4, 2013 general election. /FILE
IEBC official follows results at the national tallying centre during the March 4, 2013 general election. /FILE

Presidential results will first be announced at polling stations and instantly posted online for all to see, as the IEBC seeks to reduce disputes over next year's election.

This time, electronic transmission of presidential results will not wait until they are tallied at the constituency level as in the past. In the disputed 2007 polls, presidential results were first announced at the constituency and results sent by road or air to the National Tallying Centre.

All forms declaring the tally of all polling stations in the constituency will also be scanned and uploaded as soon as they are signed by all candidates and party agents.

These plans are contained in the draft Elections Results Management Framework (ERMF) outlining how results will be transmitted. The aim is to achieve transparency, credibility and reduce claims of rigging that plagued the last polls.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has invited public input.

"The ERMF will ensure the process of counting, tallying, collating, announcing, transmitting and declaration of election results is transparent, verifiable, secure and complies with the law," electoral agency CEO Ezra Chiloba said in a statement yesterday.

The draft says the commission "shall establish ERMF at national, county and constituency levels to provide regular updates on progress of the electoral process, respond to enquiries and provide a feedback mechanism on incidents management."

"Election results have consequences that go beyond who wins and who loses. Even among election observers and analysts, there are those who view the process of election results management with suspicion and skepticism," the document states.

Declaration of unclear and confusing results led to rigging claims in 2007, followed by violence that killed 1,650 people and displaced 300,000 others.

In that last election, a failure in electronic transmission and delayed receipt of some forms were cited by the opposition in challenging the results before the Supreme Court.

According to the draft, presiding officers must announce presidential results at polling stations before electronically transmitting them to the constituency confirming successful transmission.

The results, marked ballot boxes and counter foils will then be forwarded to the constituency returning officer.

Earlier, when voting ends, polling station presiding officers will convert the voting room into a counting venue and ensure the space and the arrangement guarantee transparent and effective counting.

"The counting venue should be secure and only minimal movement of people should allowed until the counting process is concluded," the draft says.

The draft provides a floor plan of the polling station where the presiding officer will arrange desks or tables into a rectangle.

They will use barriers to ensure ensures no ballot paper slips onto the floor.

"Prior to counting any ballot, the PO seals all ballot boxes and makes a Statement of Ballot Counts as provided for in Regulation 73(2)," the draft says.

The statement will include numbers of ballots issued to the presiding officer, unused ballots, ballots issued to voters, spoilt ballots, the number of issued minus spoilt ballots and number of registered voters.

The next step for declaration of presidential elections will be at the constituency level where the returning officer prepares a presidential ballot accountability report.

The returning officer will deliver copies of election results Forms 34s and 36 from the constituency to the National Tallying Centre with the original presidential results.

Form 34s are the Declaration of Presidential Election Results at Polling Station, signed by the presiding officer, deputy and all party agents present.

Information from Forms 34s is transferred into Form 36 and tallied as the result from that constituency.

In this election, the returning officer will be required to immediately scan Form 36 into the Electronic Document Management System as soon as results are certified by all agents.

The next stop for the results will be the National Tally Centre whose returning officer is the chairperson of the IEBC.

Here the chairperson will tally and verify results from polling stations.

He or she will compare results with constituency tabulation and "alert agents for any discrepancy for joint correction."

The chairperson then will compute the per cent vote count of each candidate in each county and then declare the presidential results.

"The returning officer will preserve all Form 34s through scanning and secure storage and prepare results for publication," the draft framework says.

The chairperson the delivers written notification of results to the Chief Justice and incumbent President.

The National Tallying Centre will have four specialised teams to ensure information is collated accurately before declaration.

The Receiving Team, code D001, receives returning officers and directs them to the results preparation desk.

The Data Processing Team, code D002, receives all results from constituency returning officers.

It will verify that all results forms have been submitted and ensure all results have been captured electronically.

"In the case of presidential results, the team will forward the result forms to the quality assurance team for verification before announcement," the draft says.

The Quality Assurance Team, code D003, reviews presidential results forms to ensure the results are consistent.

"In the event of any discrepancy, the team shall notify the commission through the CEO. In the presence of the returning officer of the respective electoral area and the chief agents, corrections shall be effected," the document says.

The last team is the Records Management Team, code D004, responsible for filing, packaging and storing all elections results forms received at the National Tally Centre.

"Further, the team shall ensure all results forms have been scanned and uploaded onto the ERMS (System)," the document says.

IEBC says the framework aims to ensure at least 75 per cent of Kenyans perceive the 2017 General Election as free, fair and credible.

It aims to ensure at least 75 per cent perceive the IEBC as an independent, impartial, and efficient electoral management body.

The IEBC also hopes to maintain voter turnout at a minimum of 80 per cent and the proportion of invalid ballots reduced to 0.40 per cent.

The national ERMS will serve as a public election hotline centre to open lines of communication to voters, candidates, political parties, observers and the media.

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