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Kenya Voters Face Glitches, Long Lines in High-Tech Polling Stations


An offical from the electoral commmision registers voters through a fingerprint scan machine at the Panarae Primary School in Kajiado, Kenya, Aug. 8, 2017.

Vote counting continues in Kenya after nationwide elections Tuesday, with President Uhuru Kenyatta taking a strong lead against his closest challenger Raila Odinga with 85 percent of polling stations reporting, according to Reuters.

The election commission website showed Kenyatta with 54.8 percent of the vote against 44.3 percent for Odinga, a margin of nearly 1.4 million votes.

The polls featured new technology including a biometric voter identification systems and electronic vote transmission using a 3G mobile platform.

Kenyan voters stood in line for hours to cast ballots in the hotly contested nationwide election.

What awaited them was a verification procedure that took three to seven minutes for each voter to be processed.

For those whose details did not appear, their identifications numbers were entered manually and they were given a separate, paper form to cast their vote.

Early morning disappointment

Twenty-four-year-old Benedict Juma Oduori slept in his polling station in central Nairobi hoping to be one of the first people to vote. It was going to be his first time to cast a ballot in an election.

But, he found his name was missing in the voter register.

“When I go to the voter identification desk, they checked my details, and my name was not appearing in the system. They sent me to the constituency head office (where) they searched (for) my name,” Oduori said. “They could not find it, yet I am a registered voter. I have my voter's card. I am asking myself ‘why can't I vote?’”

His disappointment is obvious.

"I have come to elect people who will represent me in the government for the next five years.” Odour said. “If am not going to vote (for) the leaders of my choice then I doubt if those elected will take my interest. I feel bad.”

After waiting for hours, Oduori gave up and went home.

Kenyans queue to cast their votes at dusk at a polling station in downtown Nairobi, Aug. 8, 2017.
Kenyans queue to cast their votes at dusk at a polling station in downtown Nairobi, Aug. 8, 2017.

Electronic voting machines work well

In this election, voting stations have been given network coverage using 3G mobile technology to transmit the results of electronic voting machines. One of the main reasons for using these voting kits is they transmit the results automatically, lowering the possibility of tampering.

The court allowed the electoral commission to use a manual system in case the technology kits failed. But, it appeared the voting the system was in good working condition.

The electoral commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati said Kenya's Integrated Electoral Management System was a success despite some few hitches.

"We are aware of the reports that identification took longer than expected while some officers had challenges switching on KIMS kits, Chebukati said. “(If) finger scanners do not work, our clerks are using alphanumeric (the) identification option by using ID numbers.”

Some don't get to vote

In Kisumu County in western Kenya, some voters complained of names missing from the register, and some were registered in different counties.

Some voters like Abdi Abukar couldn't get his name in his registered polling station in Nairobi, but his name appeared in a different area 1,000 kilometers away from the capital.

"I did not vote,” Abukar said. “I was registered in Eastleigh I was told I was a registered voter in Mandera.”

Voting process goes well

Kenya's Elections Observation Group (ELOG) deployed more than 5,000 observers to monitor Tuesday's vote.

In a press conference Tuesday, the opposition coalition said they were satisfied with the voting process and commended the commission for doing a good job.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has seven days to announce the presidential results.

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