Voter goes to court over changes to election law

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By MAUREEN KAKAH
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A voter has gone to court to challenge changes made to the new election law.

Dr Kenneth Otieno said the changes will interfere with the electoral body’s timeline for preparing as well as conducting free and fair polls. Dr Otieno has sued the Attorney-General for the amendments passed last year in Parliament in a case in which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is listed as an interested party.

The disputed parts of the law are on timeline for the audit of the voter register, opening it for verification and establishing an integrated electoral system. He said the time given was too short.
The petitioner, who is also the chairman for the International Policy Group, wants it determined whether the National Assembly can pass legislation which sets timelines for steps taken before the next general elections which are contradictory to the law.

Though lawyer Kiragu Kimani, he argued that the political temperature is rising with concerns on the electoral agency’s preparedness for the upcoming August 8 polls.

“It is in the interest of justice that the legality of the disputing sections of the Elections Act be ascertained before the General Election,” Mr Kimani said, adding that IEBC had not been able to comply with the requirement of appointing a reputable firm to audit the voter register.

He argued that the deadlines set are very short and that IEBC will likely fail to meet it hence jeopardize the legitimacy of the whole general elections.

He claims the constitution stipulates when elections are to be held hence the legislation on how they are to be conducted should ensure that voting is simple, transparent and takes into account needs of persons with disabilities.

Section 6 (2) of the Elections Act requires IEBC to open register of voters for inspection within 90 days before elections date for a period of 30 days but does not specify who is to inspect it.

Section 6 A(1) requires IEBC to open register of voters for verification of biometric data by members of the public in the 44,000 polling stations countrywide within 60 days before the polls for a period of 30 days with BVR kits but is not clear on what will happen to those who do not participate in the exercise.

Section 8A (3) and (4) requires a reputable firm be engaged to conduct the audit of the voter register within 30 days from the date the new law was effected as at October 4, 2016 which would be contrary to the procurement laws.

Section 44(1) stipulates the use of technology for electronic voter registration, identification and transmission of results which has to be tested at least 60 days before the polls date yet the constitutional requires polls to be held in an impartial, efficient, accurate and accountable manner.

He has pointed out that IEBC has not been able to comply with the requirement of appointing a reputable firm to audit the register of voters to date considering that a tender for this was awarded to KPMG but has been challenged in court.

He therefore wants the matter determined by a bench of judges.

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