A Training Coordinator for Technology Clerks in Kenya’s Tuesday elections, Gladys Nketia, is confident that backup clerks at the polling stations will step in if any of the trained officers failed to show up on voting day.
She said it was impossible for both the clerk and backups not to show up on voting day. She was speaking to me at a training session for over 1000 clerks who will man the Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS) deployed for this year’s elections at Ruiru Secondary School.
Many voters and international observers are worried that the KIEMS could fail as the technology for the 2013 elections did. But Miss Nketia said there must be no cause for alarm, as the clerks are trained to troubleshoot the devices if problems occur on voting day.
The Technology Clerks will operate the KIEMS devices, biometrically identify voters at Polling Stations and electronically transmit results to the 338 Tallying Centres across the country.
Elections will take place in 40,883 Polling Stations across the 47 Counties of the country. However, chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Wafula Chebukati said earlier that results of 33 electoral areas will not be transmitted by the KIEMS due to late court rulings that came after the candidates lists had already been generated.
An American journalist covering Kenyan elections for the second time told me she is not confident that the much-touted KIEMS has the needed backup.
“Given that the technology deployed in the last elections failed, one would have thought that there is a fall back system, but there is none. What will happen on voting day should the technology fail?” she queried.
But clerks who went through the training are optimistic that the devices will deliver on voting day. The IEBC has partnered three local telecommunication giants’ -Safaricom, Airtel and Telekom Kenya – and zoned the country along each of the service provider’s strengths to ensure efficient transmission of results. Kenya’s Communication Authority has also been mandated to secure the networks and ensure their service quality.
The IEBC has also deployed satellites technology in all 338 Tallying Centres expected to receive transmitted results from the Polling Stations.
One of the Technology Clerks at the Ruiru Secondary School said any computer literate can operate the KIEMS with the needed training. He said given his years of computer use and the training given, he is confident that he can administer the KIEMS on Election Day.
“There’s an enormous responsibility on our shoulders because the current electoral laws fishes to the last person if anything goes wrong. Therefore, I would be held responsible if the aspect of the elections I handle is called into question,” he said.
A female clerk who would be taking part in the election administration for the first time said the training has been very educative for her. She said there was a lot that she didn’t know about her duties at the Polling Station as well as administering the KIEMS but the training has opened her eyes to all of them.
“I am expected to do everything professionally; to be fair so that we can elect a leader fairly. As a Kenyan I have a responsibility to ensure that the process is fair and transparent so that we can continue to enjoy the peace we have now,” she insisted.
A male Technology Clerk who participated in the training said the responsibility on his shoulders is tough. He said it is their responsibility to ensure the integrity of the polls are not compromised.
“I think the law is very clear and everyone at the Polling Station has his or her responsibility, so you don’t need to worry about what the next person is doing. I think there is a process that protects all of us in our individual capacities, so I will ensure that what I’m expected to do is done to the best of my abilities,” he said.
Another Clerk said his biggest joy beyond August 8, will be for Kenyans to see the elections having been fairly conducted. He said that is when the task ahead would have been successful and Kenyans will appreciate the work of all those engaged in administering the elections at all levels, including himself.
“I feel bad anytime I hear people say the elections would be rigged because I expect the elections to be credible. Interacting with many of my colleagues, I get the same feeling that everyone wants the elections to be successful and we know that we can all ensure that it happens,” he said.
The IEBC has engaged 360,000 temporary staff at various levels of administering next week’s polls and many of them have been trained to handle their roles to ensure free and fair elections. The last batch of training for the clerks ended at Ruiru constituency on Friday and all is set for Election Day.
Today being the last day of campaigning, the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) will hold its final rally at the Uhuru Park, where the ruling Jubilee Party held it final rally in Nairobi on Friday.
By Kobby Gomez-Mensah|Nairobi, Kenya