The dispute over Kenya’s presidential election results has shifted focus to their transmission from country’s constituencies to the national tallying centre in Nairobi.
While political parties and election observers said that the voting on August 8 took place with minimal challenges until the polling stations closed at 5pm, transmission and display of results on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) system has triggered a storm.
The opposition claimed that IEBC’s server was hacked and a computer programme installed to doctor results received from constituencies in favour of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Over the past few years, the IEBC has invested in electronic voter identification and results transmission systems, called the Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System (KIEMS), which has three components — the voter register, the Electronic Voter Identification (EVID) system, and the results transmission system.
In some polling centres in 2013, EVID and the result transmission platform failed, forcing the electoral to use a manual system in identification of voters and transmission of results.
The EVID comprises a laptop with an attached finger print reader and a handheld device with built-in finger print reader, which identifies the voter before being cleared to vote.
After voting, presiding officers enter the data from a signed results sheet (Form 34) into specially configured mobile phones, and transmit the results simultaneously to tallying centres at the constituency, county and national levels.
This procedure is meant to achieve three objectives: Enhance transparency through electronic transmission of provisional results from the polling stations, display and visualise provisional results at the tallying centres, and provide access to provisional elections data.
However, a day after voting, opposition candidate Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) claimed that the electoral commission’s database had been hacked and the presidential results manipulated, allegations that have since been dismissed by the IEBC.
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said the commission had confidence in the KIEMS, which it directly procured early this year.
Election observers from the European Union, the African Union, the National Democratic Institute, the Commonwealth and Carter Centre have given the elections a clean bill of health, and urged dissatisfied parties to move to court as provided for in law.
According to Ezra Chiloba, IEBC’s chief executive, the results were supposed to be relayed from polling centres simultaneously to the constituency and national tallying centres.
As required by law, text messages of the results, accompanied by a signed Form 34A by party agents, were to be relayed electronically to the constituency and national tallying centres, followed by Form 34B that contains the declared presidential results at the constituency.
Form 34C was to be the last document to be sent to the national tallying centre with the results from the county.
Late delivery of Forms 34B delayed the declaration of presidential results, leading to tension in parts of the country, especially in opposition strongholds where protests were nipped in the bud by police.
In other allegations, which were also dismissed by IEBC, Nasa claimed that it was in possession of data from the IEBC server showing that Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta garnered 8,041,726 and 7,755,428 votes respectively.
Nasa chief agent for presidential election Musalia Mudavadi demanded that the electoral commission allow public scrutiny of its server, saying the opposition would only concede if the retrieved information proved that President Kenyatta won.
Mr Mudavadi further claimed that some of the results being tabulated by IEBC were from non-gazetted polling centres.
In their preliminary reports, elections observer groups said that the commission conducted elections professionally as required by law, and any dispute should not cause instability.