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Kenya's president allows backup manual voting

January 9, 2017

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed a law that allows manual voting and counting ballots as a backup process for electronic voting systems. Opponents have called the law a back door for potential vote rigging.

Uhuru Kenyatta
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/E. Contini

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday approved a law that requires manual voting backup options, should electronic voting systems fail.

The presidential office said Kenyatta "assented to the Elections Laws [Amendment] Bill 2016 that allows a backup mechanism to the electronic voting method," which allows the electoral oversight committee to erect "a complementary mechanism for identification of voters and transmission of elections results" should electronic voting fail. 

Previous attempt

Kenya previously tried to digitize its election process in 2013, in order to prevent the vote rigging in 2007 that sparked violence and left more than 1,000 people dead. However, finger-scanning identification equipment didn't work and the server handling the vote counting crashed, leading to the election being determined by hand and Kenyatta being named president.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Kenyatta's opponent in the 2013 vote, unsuccessfully challenged the results in the Supreme Court, claiming the electronic vote was intended to fail to allow for a manipulated manual system.

Odinga and other opposition leaders opposed Monday's measure, saying legislators in the ruling coalition had "committed a great betrayal on the people of Kenya."

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kbd/cmk (AP, Reuters)