• Despite the success of leveraging technology for increased election integrity, he noted, impunity still reigned supreme during the 2022 elections.
• Chebukati said the acts of impunity witnessed before and after the announcement of the election results are not exclusive to Kenya.
Former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chair Wafula Chebukati has said technology can never cure impunity in elections despite it having greatly enhanced transparency and accountability.
In his keynote address at the 19th International Electoral Affairs Symposium and Awards ceremony in Portugal on Tuesday, Chebukati said the Supreme Court affirmed technology's role in the delivery of credible 2022 Kenyan polls.
"The Supreme Court stated the following in its judgment: 'The technology deployed by the IEBC for the conduct of the 2022 general elections met the standards of integrity, verifiability, security, and transparency to guarantee accurate and verifiable results'," Chebukati told the symposium held in Lisbon.
Despite the success of leveraging technology for increased election integrity, he noted, impunity still reigned supreme during the 2022 elections.
"Technology – even when leveraged at its best - cannot cure impunity in elections. With all these unimpeachable technological measures in place, violence was still meted on election officials during the 2022 General Election," he said.
"A Returning Officer was murdered, staff members were kidnapped, service providers were harassed, and several were injured in the run-up to the results declaration event at the Bomas of Kenya."
Hours before Chebukati announced the election results at the Bomas of Kenya on September 15, 2022, pandemonium hit the auditorium with a section of leaders allied to Opposition leader and Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga attempting to disrupt the exercise.
Chebukati told the audience of electoral officials that the unfortunate incident was preceded by other acts of impunity where three employees of Smartmatic - the technologies service provider to the Commission in the 2022 General Election- were arrested, intimidated, threatened and their phones and laptops were confiscated.
"We now understand that the then regime who had a preferred presidential candidate wanted credentials to access the servers to compromise the upcoming election. Fortunately, these schemes were not fruitful due to the sufficient network security devices we had invested in to protect the system," he said.
President William Ruto was the eventual winner of the August 9, 2022 presidential elections garnering 7.1 million votes against Raila's 6.9 million.
Chebukati said the acts of impunity witnessed before and after the announcement of the election results are not exclusive to Kenya.
"We also saw riots take place at the Capitol Building in the United States (US) after the 2021 presidential election, despite the US being one of the strongest democracies in the world," he said.
The former electoral agency boss blamed the phenomenon on misinformation and disinformation (fake news) which he said continues to plague the integrity of the 2022 election, over a year after the results were declared.
The impunity, he said, is a deliberate act by those who wish to defeat democracy.
"For instance, fraudsters, more than six months after the results declaration event, downloaded Form 34Bs, swapped the results in favour of the losing candidate, and then published these falsified results in the press and on social media," he said.
Chebukati reaffirmed that the 2022 elections were the most credible and transparent in the country's history thanks to the use of technology.
"To date, there has been no evidence provided showing any discrepancy in the physical original Form 34As or their uploaded copies which were published on the Public Portal."
But despite the assurance, the opposition has proposed that both Azimio and Kenya Kwanza join hands for a forensic audit of the 2022 presidential election.
In the coalition's submissions to the National Dialogue Committee last month, Azimio proposed that the results of the audit be made public so that Kenyans can know the 'truth' about the elections.