Voting delayed for more than five hours in multiple polling stations in Makueni County amid confusion on whether to resort to the use of the manual register after KIEMS kits failed.
A spot check by the Nairobi News showed that more than 100 KIEMS kits mainly in Kibwezi West Constituency had failed, triggering disgruntlement among the voters.
At Kiambani Primary School, for instance, KIEMS kits in 5 of the 7 polling stations had failed while in Emali Primary School voting took place in only 2 of the 12 polling stations following a break down of the KIEMS kits.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials had difficult time calming voters who were running out of patience.
“We are waiting for direction from our bosses on whether to use the manual registers,” said Solomon Ndambuki, a presiding officer at Kiambani Primary School said as he sought to calm the impatient voters.
To recover the lost time, the IEBC officials in the affected stations pledged to extend the voting period of the voters.
“IEBC should have anticipated the failure of the KIEMS kits and allowed the use of the manual register,” said Teddy Adhola, who had woken up at 4am but had not cast her vote by 7:30 am.
She was among those who returned home unsure whether she would return later in the day to vote.
Kibwezi West IEBC returning officer Evanson Ngomano said the agency could not deploy the manual register because its hands were tied following the Monday court ruling which barred IEBC from using electoral and the manual voter identification systems simultaneously.
He, however, said the agency was pulling on all stops to resolve the crisis.
Among the affected voters is Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana who is among the stranded voters at Mulala Primary School and Kibwezi West MP Patrick Musimba who is among the voters stranded at Sekeleni Primary School.
Prof Kibwana read foul play in the breakdown of the kits as he called on IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati to authorise his agents to activate the use of the manual register.
“We are afraid that many of the voters who have already left the stations may not return to vote when voting eventually begins,” he told the Nation at the polling station.