IEBC re­ally does a good job, un­til it’s time to count the vote… Do the math

The East African - - OPIN­ION -

mainly civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions that were in­volved in the elec­tion last year through dif­fer­ent plat­forms and com­mit­tees. Some of the concerns that were brought for­ward were, “Should we de­stroy vot­ing ma­te­rial a few months af­ter an elec­tion?” Some rep­re­sen­ta­tives felt that there was no need to keep them for years and for what? In­ter­est­ingly, an in­di­vid­ual took to the mi­cro­phone and op­posed the idea, say­ing, “Even though the US is about 200 years old, you can still find vot­ing ma­te­rial from the 1800s. It is good to keep this in­for­ma­tion which can later be used for re­search…”

But why re­search in a coun­try that does not un­der­stand the value of data? That will be an ar­ti­cle for an­other day.

There was a lot of drama that un­folded in 2017, but it was not unique to IEBC. Ev­ery com­mis­sion has suf­fered; ev­ery elec­tion year, we change lead­er­ship as quickly as a dirty di­a­per. Our elec­tions do be­come more expensive by the year and quite frankly even more or­gan­ised. The process ap­pears to work and to work ef­fi­ciently.

The queues last year were or­gan­ised, most polling sta­tions opened early and re­ported a smooth flow of vot­ing. When IEBC re­leased an an­i­ma­tion on tele­vi­sion demon­strat­ing how the lines would be ar­ranged in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der so we wouldn’t need to spend hours at the polling sta­tion – I was a doubt­ing Thomas. This time round, we could ver­ify via text mes­sage where we would vote from and which line to join. Even with those ad­just­ments, I hon­estly doubted that IEBC would be or­gan­ised, so I went to Ki­boro Pri­mary School with ex­tremely low ex­pec­ta­tions. When you ex­pect the worst, ev­ery­thing and any­thing al­ways ap­pears to be great and I wanted to end the day on a pos­i­tive note. That was my mis­sion.

But they were or­gan­ised! We lined up – I re­mem­ber staying two hours longer than my hus­band. He is for­tu­nate his name starts with a “B,” so he had just about 20 peo­ple in front of him. Then he joined me in my line to keep me com­pany, and we de­bated chang­ing my name for fu­ture elec­tions and se­ri­ously think­ing about these things when nam­ing children – laugh­able but true. I was al­ways the last child to be called in assembly.

Back to the meet­ing with IEBC, “Bal­lot boxes – why do we have to buy new ones ev­ery elec­tion year. Why can’t we just re­cy­cle them? We know an elec­tion is com­ing, where do they go?” “What hap­pened to Msando? And why a year on, the in­ves­ti­ga­tions seem to have gone silent? Some­one lost their life be­cause of the job po­si­tion that he held and it was linked to the cred­i­bil­ity of our elec­tions. What does that mean for that po­si­tion in fu­ture? Will you pro­tect the in­di­vid­ual?”

So, still more ques­tions than an­swers on ev­ery­one’s mind. In­deed, our mis­trust con­tin­ues to grow with ev­ery elec­tion. Only three com­mis­sion­ers are cur­rently serv­ing while the CEO is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated. There was a mo­ment when chair­man Wa­fula Che­bukati did men­tion that the achieve­ments that IEBC has made can­not be ig­nored. They are try­ing to be in­de­pen­dent and it is a process, so chang­ing lead­er­ship will not make an im­pact on the com­mis­sion.

Right now, they have to work to­ward 2022 and not wait for a year be­fore the elec­tion. There are some ma­jor changes to be made. We have no prob­lem with go­ing to vote, and no prob­lem with the process, but, the count­ing of the vote… As long as the in­tegrity of the process can­not be guar­an­teed, we will al­ways have ques­tion­able elec­tions.

This time round, we could ver­ify via text mes­sage where we would vote from and which line to join... still, mis­trust con­tin­ues to grow

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