In Summary

  • IEBC is therefore mandated by law to publish the electronic results onto an online public portal – which they have agreed to do and made plans to provide media houses direct and real-time access to the same portal
  • The only difference this time round is that the process is expected to be electronic and automated
  • Does it mean the public should be expecting some last minute surprises that would be statistically different from the indicative results that shall be streaming in from polling stations?

Recently ICT Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru threatened to shut down media stations that call the elections or announce final results ahead of the electoral agency.

Since I am not a lawyer, I will avoid searching for the legal provisions that enable any Cabinet secretary to shut down a media station.

That said, the last time I checked, the Communications Authority of Kenya was mandated to deal with operational matters pertaining to media stations, telecommunications operators and the ICT ecosystem in general.

Licensing provisions, as given by the communications regulator, would spell out the conditions, if any, under which a media house or telecommunications operator would be faced with an imminent shutdown.

I do not own a media house, so I cannot conclusively tell if "announcing election results" is one of the many conditions spelt out in a broadcast license.

But let's assume "announcing election results" is a valid clause in the broadcast licence or communications regulations, and that it would expose broadcasters to shutdowns. 

How would this then play out within the context of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act 36 of 2016 ?

That law stipulates in Section 39 (1) (c), that the IEBC, among other things:

  • For purposes of a presidential election the Commission shall — electronically transmit, in the prescribed form, the tabulated results of an election for the President from a polling station to the constituency tallying centre and to the national tallying centre;

  • Tally and verify the results received at the national tallying centre; and

  • Publish the polling result forms on an online public portal maintained by the Commission.

The IEBC is therefore mandated by law to publish the electronic results onto an online public portal – which they have agreed to do. They have also made plans to provide media houses with direct and real-time access to the same portal.

In other words, media houses will be displaying, and by extension "announcing the results" as and when they stream in from polling stations, as they have always done over the last two elections. The only difference this time round is that the process is expected to be electronic and automated.

THE FINAL CALL

In other words, we will not have fatigued IEBC commissioners robotically reading out results from one polling station after another over an extended period of several days.

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