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Kenya's electoral body makes final preparations for polls

Joseph Njoroge Kimani, 3, waits while his father James Kimani Njoroge, both wearing suits in the colors of the Kenyan flag, casts his vote in October 2017.   -  
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Ben Curtis/Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Inside this nondescript compound guarded by armed men, in Kenya, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) employees are busy. On August 9, 22.1 million Kenyans will elect hundreds of representatives, including senators, governors, MPs and the East African nation's next president.

And for everything to go as planned, the supply chain manager in charge of the IEBC national warehouse ensures the ballots are sorted and safely moved to the different constituencies.

"Because of some other factors like security, we cannot risk taking these ballot papers by road (everywhere, ed). So basically, we have outsourced our service transporter and they will be transported by air. The five counties that I've just mentioned -- that's Turkana, Lamu, Mandera, Wajia...those are four, yes -- they'll be transported by air", Khadija Ramadhani reveals.

Kenyans are to be registered using biometric equipment, identification at the polling station and the transmission of results will also be electronic. The votes themselves will still be cast using traditional ballots.

"Our target is to ensure that the ballot papers reach the various constituencies by the 6th of this month. We have to ensure that we meet our target and it's possible, it's doable", the manager says comfidently.

Voting and electronic ballot counting is a very sensitive issue in Kenya. The country has experienced several election periods marked by deadly violence. Accusations of hacking sparked riots and looting in 2017 and the Supreme Court ordered a re-run after irregularities in the "transmission of results".

The registration of voters via mobile biometric kits has boosted the number of registered voters from 14.3 million in 2013 to 19.6 million in 2017 and over 22 million this year. As an observer, the EU hailed transparency acquired through technology but insisted it was "no substitute for trust."

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