By KAMORE MAINA and LUKE AWICH
Alarmed by NASA’s radical vote-protection strategy, the government wants to know how 41,000 polling stations will be manned, lest there be mobs and chaos.
NASA chief Raila Odinga yesterday intensified his ‘adopt-a-polling-station’ drive — five observers to each station — and wants to raise Sh410 million to fund it.
Police fear all these uninvited guests could be trouble.
“There will be many competing interests and if we allow crowds to hang around tallying centers, it will be a recipe for chaos and anarchy,” an officer involved in election preparations told the Star.
These security concerns prompted police on Tuesday to ask the IEBC who and how many people should be allowed into and around polling and tallying centres to monitor activities.
With 47 days to the August 8 vote, police wrote to electoral agency CEO Ezra Chiloba to clearly advise, helping them to plan, provide security and prevent violence.
Raila has urged NASA supporters to vote and stick around polling stations to guard the vote and prevent rigging. He also plans on five agents per station, two inside and three outside. They will be armed with voters’ registers.
The former Prime Minister has said time and again that Jubilee is plotting to steal the vote.
Assistant Police IG Henry Barmao wrote to Chiloba on Tuesday for clarity “to avoid controversy and confusion on polling day”. Barmao handles operations at police headquarters.
He said traditionally the only people allowed into tallying centres are registered agents of political parties, security officers, accredited election observers and accredited journalists.
To thwart what he calls perennial rigging, Raila and his techies have developed an application to simultaneously transmit results from the polling station to constituency and national levels.
The hi-tech parallel tallying system is said to allow NASA to know the results of the presidential vote eight hours after polling stations close at 6pm.
The strategy aims to ring-fence the General Election from manipulation and tampering.
On Tuesday, Raila accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of engaging the military chief and the NIS to manipulate the results.
Barmao told the IEBC of media reports of NASA’s parallel voter tallying centres and said therefore police need guidance on how to treat agents and others.
He asked Chiloba to communicate the commission’s decision, so police would not be seen as partisan if they lock out “unwanted guests”.
Multiple police officers involved in election preparations told the Star the service foresees a crisis if youths and unaccredited people remain around polling and tallying centers. Police say huge crowds are a security threat.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the multi-agency poll planning team had predicted a clash between the public and police if the IEBC is not clear on who is allowed in the tallying centers.
At a press conference yesterday, NASA announced it is seeking Sh410 million to fund the vote-protection strategy.
Raila said the strategy will also ensure that no dead voter cats a ballot after the audit of the voter register recently concluded that more than one million ghost voters could still be on the rolls.
In 2013, about two million people voted only for President and not for the other five elective positions.
Raila claims the anomaly was as a result of excess ballot papers marked in Uhuru’s favour.
NASA is budgeting Sh10,000 for each of of the polling centres.
In the vote-protection arrangement, there will be a five-member committee carefully identified and trained by the NASA secretariat to man each center.
To make this happen, the National Super Alliance is banking on well-wishers locally and internationally to contribute in kind or cash to protect the vote.
“You can choose to support this cause by providing food to our agents at a polling station. You can choose to cater for the daily allowances of any of our agents at a polling station or perhaps keep vigil until the last vote is counted and results announced,” the ODM boss said yesterday.
“This, I verily say unto you, will go a long way in keeping thieves at bay,” he added.
The adopt-a-polling station formula was successfully used in the 2016 Ghanaian election in which the long-time opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo trounced President John Mahama. It was his third stab at the presidency. Raila too has failed three times.
The five committee members, according to the NASA plan, will divided into two groups. The first will be made up of two agents who will be stationed inside the polling station with copies of the voters’ register, which they will mark as people cast their votes.
The two will be accredited by the IEBC.
The remaining three will be outside the polling room, also armed with copies of voters’ register for that particular station.
The five will agree amongst themselves who is the chairman, secretary and treasurer. They will also be representatives of youth and women.
At 9a, the two teams will converge and share their registers to determine who has not yet voted.
“The team will then go out to look for those who have not voted to ensure all the registered voters have turned out to cast their votes,” Raila said.
He added that the teams, who will mainly be people living around the center, will also identify sick people who could not walk on their own to vote. NASA will make special arrangements to ensure these people vote.
The polling committees will also have direct communication and access with NASA’s national tallying center.
Immediately the counting of votes ends and the Forms 34 are signed by both presiding officer and party agents, the NASA agents will scan the document and transmit it, almost real time, to the parallel tallying center.
NASA’s claimed ability to know the results within eight hours of polling stations closing will put pressure on the electoral body to act swiftly. It says this will reduce the time and latitude to steal votes.
The Constitution gives the IEBC seven days to declare the results