IEBC on a charm offensive to candidates, electorate but can it deliver a credible poll?

IEBC on a charm offensive to candidates, electorate but can it deliver a credible poll?

Concerns linger about whether the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is fully prepared to conduct free and fair elections next month.

Early this month, nine civil society organisations wrote to the IEBC, highlighting ten areas – including transmission technology and cleaning up the voters’ roll – that could compromise the elections. S

The organisations alleged massive inefficiencies, negligence, and outright corruption in the IEBC’s procurement and other electoral management operations.

An audit by the consultancy firm KPMG flagged issues in the voter register that the IEBC must address to win public confidence, which has remained low since the bungled 2017 presidential election. According to the audit, out of the 22,152,441 registered voters, 246,465 are dead, 481,711 have duplicated records, 226,143 have a false identity, and 164,269 have invalid identifications, bringing the total number of flagged cases to 1,118,588.

As a result, the IEBC has stepped up its engagement with the presidential campaigns as it looks to inspire confidence in its ability to conduct fair and credible election polls.

IEBC, which carries a battered image from three successive disputed presidential election outcomes, last month organised a forum for presidential candidates to address concerns about the integrity of the voter register.

Deputy President William Ruto, one of the two front-runners in the race, had, in the run-up to the KPMG audit, alleged that up to one million voters had been transferred from their polling stations of choice, especially in his perceived political strongholds in Rift Valley and Mt Kenya. 

The KPMG audit, however, found that irregular voter transfers had also occurred in counties outside the two regions. IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said three electoral commission officials might face prosecution over the transfers.

Suspicions over the integrity of the voter register, voter identification kits, procurement of election materials, and results transmission have led to accusations of vote-rigging in recent elections and dampened public confidence in the electoral body.

In addition, Ruto has taken issue with the involvement of Cabinet ministers in the Odinga campaign, prominently accusing ICT and Interior CSs Joe Mucheru and Fred Matiang’i of using state resources to covertly support Azimio la Umoja’s Raila Odinga.

On his part, Raila, for his part, has raised ten concerns he wants the IEBC to address before August 9 to ensure a free and fair poll. These touch on the integrity of the voter’s register, deploying election technology, and the secure printing of ballot papers, among others.

Civil society groups this week sued the IEBC over its decision to discontinue the manual register for voter identification in the next elections, arguing it may disenfranchise some voters in case of biometric kit failures.

The concerns submitted by Ruto and Raila – and IEBC’s blanket response that ‘majority of these issues have been addressed – raise questions on whether the electoral body is prepared to deliver a free, fair and credible poll. (

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