The Kenyan Elections Management Body, IEBC, hired KPMG to audit the voter register for the upcoming 8 August National elections. Based on the audit report, IEBC was expected to clean up the register ready for the elections. This would involve expunging dead voters or any multiple-entries. They were also relying on the findings of the biometric verification exercise that took place between May 9 – June 9, 2017.

Today (29.June.2017), the IEBC invited Kenyans to check the status of their voter registration. Interested voters are expected to send in their ID/Passport number to a shortcode 70000. They will receive a reply in the form of an SMS with their voter details (Name, polling station, county and ward). An online portal was also publicized as an alternative.

It worked for most people. However, by accident or design, some queries using fake ID numbers returned confirmation messages. Numbers like 0, 123, 66 sent back complete voter information for ‘strangers’. Someone also reported that their parents who passed on 4 years ago were still listed in the ‘cleaned up’ register.

The IEBC was quick to point that invalid queries should not return any values.

Three possibilities here.

• It could be a technical issue and the database being queried is not the ‘clean one’

• The database administrators did not think through non-valid queries and the system is defaulting to randoms.

• It could also be that the clean up exercise was a hoax or not thorough enough.

Considering ID numbers of dead Kenyans are returning figures, some correct and some off, it is safe to assume the either the clean up was not done or that the verification process is not using the right database.

An issue that also requires clarification is who is providing the SMS service, and thus accessing IEBC’s database. Are there privacy clauses on their contracts regarding data access and sharing, assuming this is a third party?

The damage this does to public perception on the fairness of the exercise is significant. With 39 days to the Kenyan elections, the integrity of the voter register cannot be guaranteed. All the technology invested in the election process – biometric registration and verification as an example – may be all in vain if the actual voters keep seeing these kind of lapses. These episodes erode trust in the election process, the very reason why the technology was being adopted in the first place.


The IEBC issued a press statement on the matter insisting the current database is the most updated and advanced.

“It was clear from the audit that the register of voters had 171,476 records that had invalid IDs when compared with the National Registration Bureau database. Most of these records are as a result of clerical errors at data entry point. The Commission deliberated this issue extensively and resolved to retain the names of these individuals in the register in order to minimize chances of disenfranchisement.”