The comprehensive review will examine how the commission systems failed during the election, especially in light of the billions of shillings of taxpayers’ money spent on electronic registration, voter identification and results transmission systems, all of which failed.
HumanIPO reported extensively at the time on the IEBC’s tribulations, with electronic systems collapses delaying the counting of vote and the commission blaming a server problem for the high number of rejected votes on the first day of counting. The electronic voter registration system also had to be scrapped, with the IEBC reverting back to a manual system.
The biggest headache the commission faces is clawing back public support and ensuring Kenyans do not lose faith in the electoral system. There are still millions of Kenyans, especially those who supported the defeated Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), that have no faith in the IEBC.
It is believed the IEBC did not conduct a single successful test involving all the election officials before polling day, according to an independent auditor talking to The Standard. The auditor said the system had been broken into various components that required additional servers, which had compromised its hardware.
The IEBC should have known that a completely successful election depends on processes with high levels of transparency and consensus, as well as a well-documented tallying process, and if technology will be used it must be carefully tested in advance of elections to identify and correct weaknesses.
These computing failures were foreseeable, preventable and inexcusable. The failure to plan for backup power was unacceptable. Further, the cell phones and biometric scanners were not procured until one month before the election, and were not tested sufficiently for hitches. It is believed the IEBC was so ill-prepared from a technological point of view that the computer systems expected to transmit election results were still being installed on March 3.
The audit will have to focus on these issues in their entirety. No stone should be left unturned if the problems that occurred this time are to be avoided in 2017.
CORD leader Raila Odinga has been vocal in claiming the IEBC, as currently constituted, should not be allowed to conduct the next polls. The former prime minister, who filed an unsuccessful petition at the Supreme Court over the election results, said parliament should amend the law on how the current commission can be disbanded, with the constitution currently giving the commission and its commissioners security of tenure for six years.
The electoral commission is set to face a post-election litmus test on July 22, when it handles a by-election after Makueni senator Mutula Kilonzo passed away last month.
Time is ticking for the IEBC and Kenyans are watching.