Nairobi — Kenya’s Supreme Court has ordered the recount of ballots cast at 15 polling stations during the August 9 presidential election. The order was one of several issued Tuesday as the court began hearing a challenge to the win of President-elect William Ruto.
The recount request from Raila Odinga and his running mate, Matha Karua, was for 15 polling stations in four counties: Kericho, Nandi, Nyandarua and Mombasa.
The first three counties voted heavily for Ruto, while Mombasa residents voted mainly for Odinga.
Judges said the recounts must be done within 48 hours.
The court also told Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the IEBC, to provide the official voter registries and some election-related equipment for examination.
Chief Justice Martha Koome said after looking at the arguments submitted by Odinga and his lawyers, the judges will be ruling on several questions.
“The first issue [is whether] the technology deployed by IEBC for the conduct of the 2022 general election met the standards of integrity, verifiability, security, and transparency to guarantee accurate and verifiable results,” Koome said. “Issue number two is whether there was interference with the uploading and transmission of forms 34A from the polling stations to the IEBC public portal. Issue number three is whether there was a difference between forms 34A’s uploaded on the IEBC public portal and forms 34A’s received at the national tallying center and forms 34A’s issued to the agents at the polling stations.”
Form 34A is the form signed at local polling stations after vote counts are completed. Once signed, the form is transmitted to the national tally center to be included in the presidential vote totals.
The Supreme Court will also examine whether there were discrepancies between the total votes cast for the presidential candidates and for other electoral positions, such as the governors and senators.
In addition, the judges will examine whether Ruto got more than 50 percent of the vote — the standard needed to avoid a run-off — and whether there were irregularities and illegalities in the counting process that could affect the results.
Odinga is challenging the official election results that saw him lose by a small margin. Ruto got 7.1 million votes, while Odinga got 6.9 million.
The Odinga camp believes the election was rigged in favor of Ruto, allegedly with the help of some electoral officers and IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati, a claim the chairman has denied.
After the vote count was completed, Chebukati declared Ruto to be the winner, but four of the seven commissioners publicly disowned the results, citing issues with the counting process.
In Tuesday’s hearing, lawyers from the opposing camps clashed over who had the right to represent IEBC, despite the court saying it would admit the arguments of all the commissioners.
The electoral commissioners have made individual submissions to the court, a move that legal experts say will likely weaken any attempts to defend how the IEBC conducted the electoral process.
Hearings are expected to continue until Friday.