Long queues were the order of the day as Kenyans took to the polls Tuesday to vote in a hotly contested national election, pitting current president Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party against former prime minister Raila Odinga’s Nasa party. Voters started queueing as early as 2am, according to Caroline Kantai, presiding officer at Moi Avenue Primary School. Polling centres officially opened at 6am. Some centres opened late due to poor weather conditions, the delayed arrival of voting materials and problems with the Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS), which verify voters’ biometric information. Kantai said some polling stations had problems verifying biometrics because voters’ fingers were sweaty or oily, or because “the machine just failed for one reason or the other”. In cases like these, polling clerks verified voters’ identities manually, using their identification documents.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) assured Kenyans that the hitches were dealt with.
IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati said Nairobi had the highest number of registered voters and that there were a few challenges. “In some polling stations in Embakasi East, Kasarani and Westlands we have experienced delayed opening. We have immediately replaced the returning officers in these three constituencies and deployed Commissioners to ensure efficient management of these locations,” he said.
Chebukati said centres that had experienced delays in opening would close later to compensate.