How compromised IEBC Servers and lack of form 34As speak for stolen elections

The 2017 elections are almost behind us, but not yet. The reelected President Kenyatta is yet to be sworn in whereas NASA presidential candidate Raila Amolo Odinga is set to make a major announcement detailing the way forward for his supporters following his refusal to concede defeat. Raila’s refusal to concede defeat stems from the allegations that the elections were once again stolen from him, and he has pointed to compromised IEBC servers and handling of form 34s as sure indicators for a fraudulent election.

A lot has been said after Kenyans cast their ballot on August 8th 2017, with many including a number of local and international observers, expert commentators, and myself viewing the August 8th elections as generally free and fair. Few NASA supporters who have also considered that Raila Odinga lost fairly have put the blame on NASA’s disorganisation, with a number of them pointing out several weaknesses that might have led to a NASA loss. I selected five of those weaknesses and wrote them on my Facebook as follows:

1. NASA created and reinforced the idea that the elections will be rigged. This narrative helped cement the feeling amongst many supporters that whether or not they turn out to vote, their votes will not count. This explains voter apathy in NASA strongholds where in some NASA counties turnout was less than 60%. NASA realized this mistake one week to the elections and through its keyboard warriors started to tell supporters that the systems IEBC had set in place were rigging proof.

2. NASA said that they will not accept a rigged election. They then said they’ll not go to court after results unfavorable to them are announced. Together with the rigging claims, this clearly indicated to voters that there would be violence. NASA voters in Nairobi and Nakuru then decided to migrate to their rural homes en masse. These towns were to vote for NASA at the rates of 56% and 30% respectively, but due to mass migration, they ended up voting for NASA at the rates of 50% and 14% respectively.

3. NASA spent less in the campaigns in the belief that they will channel the resources to a massive voter turnout drive. NASA would spend nothing on voter turnout drive on the election day.

4. NASA abandoned their adopt a polling station vote protection strategy, something that certain NASA insiders say never left the boardrooms. According to information from several sources, many NASA agents were not given transport to and from the polling stations neither were they fed. Up to the day Chebukati announced the results, there were a number of NASA agents who were yet to submit their reports to NASA tallying centre citing lack of payment.

5. NASA did not continuously collect data through well structured, scientifically and thoroughly conducted opinion polling. It seems NASA relied on only one opinion poll that was conducted by John Zogby which showed their Presidential candidate tying with Jubilee’s at 47.4% and 46.7% respectively. As Centre for African Progress would demonstrate, an opinion poll done on some 9,000+ respondents is capable to predict accurately how voting in Kenya can turn out.

But as much as the above points seem valid, there have been issues that have been raised in regards to the tallying, vote transmission, and declaration of results that needs further scrutiny. These issues range from compromised IEBC servers (servers that NASA alleged to have been hacked – I don’t think they were hacked but compromised, where compromised means intentional manipulation of data by people who have officially been granted access), declaration of results at constituency levels, doctoring of  forms 34As and 34Bs, and last minute signing for form 34C by the IEBC chair.

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In another discussion forum, I was asked what I genuinely think of the compromised IEBC servers. I responded that the servers being compromised were inconsequential since the official results are contained in the original hard copy documents called form 34A. These forms are generated at each polling station where the presiding officer records the votes cast in favor of every presidential candidate, the total valid votes, total of votes rejected, votes disputed, and/or votes objected to. These numbers when taken together should match total votes cast which should also match total turnout.

But given how the results transmission happened, compromised IEBC servers would create an opportunity for doctoring form 34As. This is because the servers would be compromised to display a specific trend in the results, a trend that would make the public believe that a particular candidate had already won. Once the public believed in the figures being displayed, the stage for generating form 34As and 34Bs would have been set. Evidence for compromised IEBC servers were seen in the consistent constant gap between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga throughout the results transmission period, a gap that many calculated to be at a constant of 11.6%.

Given that the results were streaming from several and random polling stations around the country,  we would expect the gap between any two close candidates to consistently fluctuate – where at certain times the gap would be near 0%, whereas other times the gap could be as wide as 50%. The next percentage difference between the candidates when subsequent results streamed in should not have been predictable. Compromised IEBC servers would set the stage for doctoring form 34As and 34Bs.

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The possibility that form 34As and 34Bs were doctored is real. By yesterday, Ezra Chiloba who is the CEO of IEBC said that they had not received all form 34As, despite having received all 290 form 34Bs and used the results in form 34Bs to announce Uhuru Kenyatta as the president elect. On the surface, this doesn’t seem problematic as the High Court and Court of Appeal ruled that results announced by the constituency returning officers as contained in form 34Bs are final. If a returning officer submits form 34B to IEBC chair, there is nothing the IEBC chair can do to alter the results.

However, upon closer examination, the admission by Ezra Chiloba that by yesterday IEBC had not received all the copies of form 34As reveal that the form 34Bs they used to announce the final results could have been doctored; and the delay in having all form 34As imply that form 34As are also being doctored to match figures both in form 34Bs and the electronic tally. This I say since in practice form 34Bs should not be submitted to IEBC chair without accompanying form 34As.

In practice, the presiding officer at the polling station counts the votes in presence of party agents. Once all are satisfied that the vote count has been done in order, the presiding officer records the tally in form 34A, gets the agents to sign the form, and signs it too. This form is then photocopied so as to give every agent his/her copy, a copy for the presiding officer, a copy for pinning at the polling station, and two copies to be submitted to the constituency returning officer. The original master copy is  inserted inside the ballot box together with the cast ballot papers and sealed. This original copy which is the version that was scanned for electronic transmission can only be accessed if a court orders so in a petition.

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At the constituency level, the returning officer receives two copies of signed form 34As, uses these copies to generate form 34B, asks all presiding officers and party agents if the generated form 34B is correct, and if there is no dispute, announces the presidential results in the constituency. The returning officer then submits the form 34B and accompanying form 34A to the presidential returning officer at the national level.

Given the above, it is clear there shouldn’t arise a situation where the IEBC chair who doubles up as the presidential returning officer should have in his possession form 34Bs without accompanying form 34As. The outlined procedure for generating form 34B clearly demonstrates that a form 34B generated without prerequisite form 34As is null and void.

In summary, the compromised IEBC servers as was seen by non-random transmission of presidential results could have provided the opportunity to doctor form 34Bs. The absence of form 34As that could support the results recorded in form 34Bs mean that there is a huge possibility that the accompanying form 34As are being doctored.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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