Azimio rigging claim jolts IEBC vote count

Claims of ballot stuffing and other rigging claims jolted the ongoing count of the presidential vote as attention shifted to Bomas of Kenya, the national tallying centre.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya yesterday alleged more voters cast votes in the presidential race than any of the other five races in the Mt Kenya region, terming it an indicator of election fraud.

The coalition said the alleged rigging was most rampant in Central Kenya, a region that overwhelmingly voted for United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate William Ruto.

“It is with great concern that the electoral process was highly compromised,” said Jubilee Party Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni in a statement.

“The voter turnout in the Kiems kits did not tally with used ballot paper counterfoils, [there was] lack of clarity on voter verification where the Kiems kits failed.”

Jubilee is a constituent party of the Raila Odinga-led Azimio coalition. Mr Kioni, in the statement, claimed election fraud was detected in 33 Mount Kenya constituencies, Bungoma, Taita Taveta and Kisii.

Orange Democratic Party secretary general Edwin Sifuna also claimed to have nabbed a poll official who was perpetrating election fraud in Nairobi’s Starehe Constituency through unmarked and pre-marked ballot papers that were already stamped.

No hacking

But responding to widespread online claims that the electronic results transmission system had been infiltrated, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan said the agency had been monitoring all its systems on all levels, including network, application, database and operating system, assuring that no hacking had been detected.

“There is disinformation spreading that the results portal has been compromised. We would like to assure the country that nothing like that has happened. We anticipated that people will try to hack our systems and put in place measures to secure it on all levels.”

The rigging claims threaten to blot the election that appeared to have run smoothly on Tuesday, save for the limited Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System (Kiems) voter identification kit failure that was resolved through the use of the printed register.

Azimio alleged possible collusion between Kenya Kwanza Alliance and IEBC staff to either issue voters with multiple ballot papers or stuff ballot boxes at the start of the poll but did not provide evidence to back its claims.

Announcements of the governor, Senate, National Assembly and MP seat winners continued smoothly throughout yesterday, slowly shifting attention to Bomas, where the presidential winner will be declared.

The Kenya Kwanza Alliance, however, dismissed the rigging claims, terming them an attempt to frustrate IEBC from discharging its mandate.

Leaders allied to the Azimio coalition led by Homa Bay Governor Elect Gladys Wanga when they raised concerns on the ongoing verification exercise at the Bomas of Kenya on August 12, 2022./PHOTO DENNIS ONSONGO.Media Group

It’s unfortunate that our competitors are interfering with the work of IEBC and making it difficult for the commission’s staff to complete their work,” said Elgeyo Marakwet senator-elect Kipchumba Murkomen.

“What I saw in Starehe is sad. I really hope the staff will be allowed to finish their work unfettered.”

Murang’a governor-elect Irungu Kang’ata also dismissed the rigging claims, terming them bitterness by poll losers. “I would like to help him understand that Mt Kenya voters went to the ballot to free themselves from a Jubilee rule gone rogue,” he said.

Slow pace

The allegations emerged in the backdrop of a slow pace by the commission to verify and declare presidential results four days after the election.

DP Ruto and Mr Odinga are in a tight race, putting the country in major political suspense, with each side claiming victory.

The figures provided by the Azimio coalition, which we could not independently verify in the absence of official IEBC data, showed that 3,000,561 voters cast their ballot in the presidential race in the Mt Kenya region against 2,575,023 in the governor races, 2,255,441 in the Senate and 2,165,501 for woman rep seats.

In Laikipia, 167,953 voters cast their votes in the presidential race, compared to 162,642 in the governor race.

In the same county, 109,903 cast their votes in the Senate race, and 113,146 voted in the woman rep race.

In Nakuru, 685,249 participated in the presidential race, compared to 666, 598 in the governor race. A voter is issued with six ballot papers for the six elective seats and is expected to cast them before leaving the polling station.

Mr Odinga’s head of campaign board and outgoing Laikipia governor Ndiritu Muriithi claimed some polling stations in Mt Kenya recorded 180 per cent voter turnout.

He claimed that some of the agents by the coalition were denied access to the polling stations for close to three hours, suggesting that the alleged ballot stuffing could have taken place during that period.

“It is curious that some voters were handed six ballot papers but chose to only vote in a single race. The only explanation is ballot stuffing or people being given multiple ballots,” he said.

“In Nakuru, Liakipia, Nyandarua and Kiambu, there was deliberate agents’ frustration. The IEBC asked for the identification documents and names of the agents to facilitate the issuance of badges. Then they said there was a delay and they would be allowed to proceed to the polling stations on the basis of the appointment letters.”

The outgoing governor said that when the agents went to the polling stations, they were denied access.

It took the intervention of the coalition to have them allowed in, three hours after the start of the polls. He also alleged that at least three polling stations in his county recorded more votes cast than the registered number of voters.

“Three polling stations had more voters than the registered voters. The total number of allegedly cast votes was more than the registered votes. You get 186 per cent voter turnout,” he said.

Inside the Bomas tallying centre, there was tension within the auditorium as Uasin Gishu woman representative Gladys Boss Shollei, an agent of the UDA presidential candidate, was put on the spot over accusations of clandestinely photocopying amended forms 34B before sneaking them to clerks at the verification table for the announcement by the IEBC as the verified results.

Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang, the Azimio presidential candidate agent, is the one who alerted the commission to what Ms Shollei was allegedly doing.

Earlier in the day, there was yet another commotion inside the auditorium caused by a laptop belonging to the Kenya Kwanza team that was found at the verification table, which Azimio agents termed strange.

IEBC commissioners resolved the matter in a meeting with the presidential agents.

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