ID, Kenya, vote, voter

Kenya: No Biometric Voter Roll This Time — UPDATE: Declines US Offer of Free Registration Kits

AUG. 3, 2012
It looks to be official. Kenya will not be using biometric ID management techniques in the national elections of March 2013.

Kenya scraps electronic registration plan for vote next year (Reuters)

Kenya’s electoral commission has abandoned plans to introduce an electronic register of voters after the tendering process descended into acrimony, stirring fears among members of parliament that an election next year will be marred by fraud.

Next March’s general election will be the first since a disputed poll in 2007 that triggered a politically-fuelled ethnic slaughter in which more than 1,200 people were killed.

MPs grill IEBC over canceled tender (Capital FM – Nairobi)

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) spent Thursday morning defended its decision to cancel the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) tender and outlining its preparedness for the 2013 General Election.

Appearing before a joint parliamentary committee of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committees, IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan said that two of the shortlisted bidders failed in the due diligence report while the other two quoted above IEBC’s budget.

Hassan, though without further explanation said the decision was made after the process became ‘murky’ and after it was infiltrated by ‘extraneous’ factors.

Now Kenya has to conduct the next years elections the “old fashioned way.” In and of itself, this isn’t a problem. Until a few years ago, everyone that conducted a clean election did it without biometrics. Applied correctly, however, biometrics can make corruption of the electoral process more difficult.

It’s also refreshing, in a way, that the IBCE backed off and admitted that it could not come to a decision on the proper way to implement biometrics in the elections.

A rigorously executed biometric election is a very complex undertaking (and I still think we’re witnessing progress toward a more perfect  implementation template) so early adopters need to have a strategic vision and the managerial acumen to pull it off.

Also, biometric elections are expensive — in our opinion, more expensive than they should be — and it’s hard for government agencies to turn down the opportunity to direct large sums of donated money and even larger amounts of public funds. The IEBC’s decision is all the more striking given Kenya’s perceived level of public corruption (ranked 122nd of 150 countries by and 154 of 183 by Transparency International).

Nevertheless, the IBCE still has its work cut out for it.

UPDATE AUG. 6, 2012: IEBC Team Rejected Hillary Clinton’s BVR Kit Offer

“The IEBC was concerned that even granted that the political implications were put aside, time constraints would make the operationalisation of the project impossible owing to the limited time left,” said the source.

The Commission on Implementation of the Constitution chairman, Charles Nyachae, confirmed that the issue of BVR featured in the discussions with Clinton. He said he got the impression that the issue had featured in Clinton’s earlier meetings with President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and National Assembly Speaker Marende due to the special emphasis she seemed to have on it.

Biometric voter registration kits are expensive but the the training, voter education, and logistical aspects of a biometric voter registration effort are extremely daunting, too.

See aslo:
Clinton seeks free, fair polls in Kenya (Afriquejet)

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton arrived in Nairobi Saturday for a meeting with Kenyan leaders and sounded Washington’s strongest warning ever that a repeat of the 2007 Presidential vote-related violence would not be tolerated. “We as a partner and friend are hoping that this election, which is complex, goes very smoothly so that everyone is so proud because of what has been achieved,” Clinton said after meeting Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki shortly after arriving in the Kenyan capital on a flight from Entebbe, Uganda.

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