KENYA POLLS: Poll kit hitches delay voting for hours

Tuesday March 5 2013

By NATION TEAM

Technical hitches involving voter identification kits on Monday delayed voting in various polling stations across the country, forcing the electoral commission to use manual registers.

In several cases, the machines failed to recognise the finger prints of voters and therefore could not display their data.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission admitted the technical hitch as it assured the public that printed versions of the poll books were safe to deliver a credible poll.

In Nairobi, a number of polling stations were affected by the malfunction, prompting presiding officers to turn to the manual lists.

At Star of Hope Primary School in Makadara constituency, election coordinator Florence Kwamboka said kits at the station were of no help due to lack of power.

“We had just two classes with electricity. My officers opted to use the manual registers,” she said.

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In Mombasa, the kits’ failure affected voting at Majengo Mapya-Muzdalifa polling station in Likoni. One kit failed to work completely after its battery exploded.

Mr Mwinyi Hamisi, a voter, said some voters had gone through all the streams within the polling station in vain “because they could not find their names”.

In North Rift and western Kenya, voters in various stations waited for hours after the machines failed. The worst hit polling stations in Baringo county included Kasoiyo and Municipal Council of Kabarnet, and nearly all polling centres in Baringo North constituency.

Local leaders including senate aspirant Gideon Moi called on IEBC to take heed of the technical challenges and address them.

In Nandi, IEBC officials used manual lists after BVR kits failed in more than 60 per cent of the polling stations.

Voting in parts of Teso North was delayed for about one hour after the kits let the officers down.

In Bungoma county, senate aspirant Moses Wetang’ula urged IEBC to compensate voters for the hours lost.

In Kisumu, a man broke into tears when clerks turned him away after the register showed he had registered in Meru county despite his card indicating that was a voter in Kisumu central.

Election Coordinator for Kakamega and Vihiga counties George Oyugi said the problem could have been caused by the quality of the batteries.

In Narok, some voters got a rude shock when they found their names missing in the register.

Poll coordinator Muhammed Raka attributed the problem to poll book failure.

At Milimani Primary School in Laikipia, voting was slow as polling officials were forced to use manual register since there was no power.

In Gichugu constituency in Kirinyaga, clerks used manual lists after the electronic kits failed to work.

Narc Kenya Presidential candidate Martha Karua, who voted at Mugumo Primary School, protested the use of the manual lists, saying IEBC had assured candidates that the machines would work.

“IEBC should resolve this because in some instances, I cannot understand why a password of the BVR can be a problem,” she said.

In Embu county, the exercise was delayed in some polling stations following lack of kits and confusion over voters’ lists.

The kits failure problem also affected polling stations in Thanaka and Maara constituencies.

At Moi Avenue Primary School in Starehe, deputy presiding officer Purity Gacheri said the officials spent the night at the station to ensure that nothing went wrong.

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