Kenya: Will parallel tallying of results ensure transparency in August poll?

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Tuesday, 28 June 2022 13:47

Ballot boxes and election materials are seen at a tallying centre in Kisumu
Ballot boxes and election materials are seen at a tallying centre in Kisumu, Kenya October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has granted media and civil society organisations permission to set up a parallel tallying centre that will collect and tabulate results from the August polls.

IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati says the decision seeks to ensure transparency of the election.

“The media houses, political parties and candidates are free to have their own parallel tally,” he said after meeting media stakeholders in Nairobi.

However, Chebukati reiterated that the IEBC will be the one to declare the winner of the highly contested race, as mandated by the constitution.

“You can count the results, but of course, do not declare. That one you leave to me,” he said.

Brian Mutie, a Nairobi-based political analyst, says by allowing the establishment of parallel tallying centres, the IEBC wants to avoid a situation where the two presidential frontrunners (Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga) reject the final results.

READ MORE Ruto: ‘[I] will accept the outcome of the election whichever way it goes’

“The electoral body wants to show that it will ensure the presidential poll is transparent,” he says.

Independent tallying

Since 1997, when the elections laws were amended, independent counting of votes during presidential elections has been made possible to allow interested parties access the tallying centre and ensure that results are displayed to the public.

However, there has been state interference. For example, in 2017, the opposition coalition (National Super Alliance-NASA, then led by Raila) ran a parallel tallying centre in Nairobi, but it was raided and computers destroyed by the police.

Every party has always had a tallying centre, [but] the challenge has been the supply of timely information

This time round, however, the electoral body is trying to ensure a different outcome by asking election stakeholders to tally and compare the results to minimise election rigging claims.

Raila and Ruto had on previous occasions, during campaigns, made pronouncements on the issue.

“Our agents won’t leave the polling centres before, during or after voting,” Ruto said during a meeting with Kenyans in the United Kingdom in March, after raising concerns over an alleged plot to rig the election.

Raila’s plan

Raila’s plan is to use 300,000 agents in all polling stations to send the results to his party’s tallying centre.

His lawyer, Paul Mwangi, says this was the plan even before the IEBC announced its position on the same. “Every party has always had a tallying centre, [but] the challenge has been the supply of timely information.”

Benson Wanyama, a Nairobi resident who will be voting for the second time, says the move will ensure the results are credible, even though the parallel tallying centres may cause anxiety among supporters.

“I support this move, it means I will know the winner before IEBC announces,” he tells The Africa Report.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options