Thursday, March 7, 2013

Computer bug behind the many spoilt votes

A bug which multiplied spoilt ballots was responsible for the high number of spoilt votes reported through the electronic tallying system.

The chairman of Kenya's electoral commission, Mr Ahmed Issack Hassan has attributed the reduction of rejected votes in the on-going tallying process to a bug in the commission's database.

Addressing a news conference at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi last evening, Mr Hassan said the software bug in the system developed in-house by the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission kept on multiplying the rejected votes by a factor of eight.

He said, the error was as a result of a programming conflict between the IEBC server and the database.

"There was an error in the way the programme was written… For any rejected vote for any candidate, they were being multiplied by eight," said the IEBC chairman.

As at 6.30pm, the IEBC had counted 6,031,500 votes, and the tally of rejected votes was 58,409.

When the results were being transmitted electronically from the polling stations, the database had recorded 338,592 rejected votes out of a total of 5,653,852 votes cast.

The high number of rejected votes — which kept rising as the counting went on — had made political parties jittery about what their impact would have on the final tally of votes, given that for one to be declared a president, they must have more than half of all the votes cast in an election, and at least 25 per cent in more than half of the countries 47 counties.

132 constituencies

By press time, official results had been announced from 132 constituencies. Jubilee's Uhuru Kenyatta was in the lead with 3,134,654 votes; Mr Raila Odinga of the Coalition for Reform and Democracy had 2,563,286; Musalia Mudavadi had 174,348; Peter Kenneth 34,409; Martha Karua 19,945; James ole Kiyiapi 19,365; Mohammed Dida 16,536; Paul Muite 6,705.

The electoral commission promised to carry out an audit on the large number of rejected votes.

This had been attributed to an uneducated electorate that was voting for six elective positions, with numerous candidates.

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