21 February 2013

Kenya: IEBC Outlines Security Measures Ahead of March 4 Polls

With eleven days to Kenya's general elections, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has geared up its preparation and assured Kenyans of credible polls.

90,000 Kenyan security officers will watch over the March 4 General Election as a deterrent against violence similar to the mayhem that rocked the country in 2007 after presidential election. These officers will secure transportation of election materials to the constituency and County tallying centres. "We will deploy over 70,000 officers at the 290 constituencies, while others will be at the County and National Tallying Centre," IEBC's chief executive officer Mr. James Oswago said.

IEBC will relocate to Bomas, the National Tallying Centre a week to the election. The relocation will come a day after IEBC would have undertaken a mock election to educate voters on the voting procedure at one centre in each of the 1,450 County Assembly wards. This is necessary because for the first time, Kenyans will vote for candidates in six positions; President, Governor, Senator, Member of Parliament, Women representative, and County Assembly representative.

The mock-up exercise scheduled on Sunday will cover one polling station in each of County Assembly wards and will facilitate the testing of the efficiency and credibility of the system for transmission of results. The exercise in which voters will be taken through the process of marking their ballot papers and results transmission is intended to reduce cases of spoilt votes, IEBC Chairman Mr. Ahmed Isaack Hassan stated adding that the sample will be a real test to enable Kenyans have a real experience of what will take place on March 4, how the queues will be managed and how to tackle (any) eventualities."

Presidential and senate ballot papers have been delivered and are under 24-hour guard at an undisclosed location while the rest are expected by February 26. As a sign of how 'big' the coming election will be, IEBC has hired 240,000 polling clerks to cover 33,400 polling centres and poll books which will be in use to counter-check the voter details with the Electronic Voter identification Device (EVID). Hassan and Oswago said they were confident about the commission's preparation and in particular assured Kenyans the system for electronic transmission of results was credible.

Security features are in place to deter manipulation of the system, they said while responding to claims it might be tampered with. Hassan explained it would be difficult to tamper with the server as it is centralized and access restricted.

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