Kenya election: What are these Kiems kits?

Tuesday August 09 2022

An IEBC official holds a KIEMS gadget during tallying at Nyeri Technical in Nyeri town on August 9, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Kenya’s elections on Tuesday witnessed sporadic failures of kits used to manage voters’ roll and transmission.

In some stations, the polling clerks were forced to identify voters using the manual registers after the gadgets failed.

What does the law say?

Under the law, the electoral agency is permitted to use the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (Kiems) kits to identify voters at the polling station.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) loads the Kiems kits with electronic voter identification and results transmission system software, Sim cards of network operators and secure digital (SD) cards containing registered voters’ biographic and biometric data.

How is the kit used?


The Kiems kit digitally identifies voters at polling stations, unlike before, when clerks used a manual register to recognise a voter in the commission’s roll.

When a voter arrives at the polling station, they present their national identity card or passport used at registration.

The polling clerk then uses the Kiems kit to identify and authenticate the voter. They do so by assisting the voter in placing their fingers on the kit for fingerprint identification.

Once identified, the voter is issued with six stamped ballot papers for president, governor, senate, woman representative, MP and member of County Assembly (MCA).

How are results transmitted?

Apart from identifying the voters, the Kiems kits will also be used to transmit results from the polling stations to the national and constituency tallying centres.

Once vote counting has been done, the presiding officers manually fill out the tally forms, after which they take a picture of the forms. Under the election regulations, Form 34A is the first form used to tabulate the presidential election results. The presiding officer fills it after counting votes at the polling station.

The Form 34A picture is then transmitted through the Kiems kit to the constituency and national tally centres and the IEBC public portal.

Who made the kits?

The IEBC awarded the tender to Smartmatic International BV in November 2021.

Smartmatic builds and implements electronic voter systems. It was contracted by IEBC to supply up to 14,100 Kiems kits for use in the polls. It is also the software provider for the kits, having replaced OT Morpho, now called Idemia, which was the technology service provider for IEBC in 2017.

Recently, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati disclosed that Smartmatic did not provide all the Kiems kits needed for the election, noting that before the contract with the tech firm, the commission had 41,000 working kits.

He said this brings “the total number of the kits that are in good working condition to 55,100.”

Are there disputes over the gadgets?

Yes. Overreliance on Kiems kits has been at the centre of push and pull between political players and the electoral agency.

Azimio La Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his main rival Deputy President Willam Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza coalition have repeatedly disagreed on the use of Kiems kits, a matter that landed in courts. Last week, the High Court ruled that the manual voter register be used as a complementary system.

The arguments ranged on possible failures of alphanumeric search, keypad, screen pad or booting system malfunctions and battery breakdown. There were also concerns over malware infection, operating system crash or breaking of the kit if it drops.

The electoral agency said it had six extra Kiems kits in each ward across the country to act as a backup.