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Kenya’s electoral commission to open 6,000 new polling stations in Ruto strongholds? No, statement is fake

A statement circulating on social media claims that Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has approved 6,000 new polling stations ahead of the August 2022 general elections.

It shows the IEBC’s logo and is headed: “CLARIFICATION ON THE ADDITIONAL 6,000 POLLING STATIONS.”

The statement reads: “The commission has received queries on the distribution of the extra 6,000 polling stations ahead of the August 9, 2022 elections. In line with our policy of transparency, the following is the list of distribution of the new polling stations per county.”

It then lists numbers of new polling places in 18 counties, including Nairobi, Uasin Gishu, Murang’a, Nandi, Nyandarua, Bomet, Kiambu, Vihiga, Kericho, Narok, Bungoma, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, Nyeri, Mombasa, Lamu, Kilifi and Nakuru. 

It appears to have been signed by IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati.

Some social media users who have posted the statement say the commission is biased. They claim the new polling stations are to be set up in areas considered to be the political backyard of deputy president William Ruto, who is vying for the presidency.

Ruto leads the Kenya Kwanza alliance. In the elections he will face Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga, who is also the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition presidential candidate, and two other candidates.

But is the statement authentic? We checked.

IEBC_Fake

New polling stations number 5,349

In a press release issued on 20 June, Chebukati said that there were 40,883 polling stations in 2017, the year of Kenya’s previous general election. For 2022, the number is 46,232. This is an increase of 5,349 – not 6,000.

We searched for the statement on the commission's social media pages and came up empty.

But on 18 July, the IEBC posted the statement on Facebook and Twitter, stamped “fake”.

Such misinformation could stoke political tensions if the election is perceived as not fair.

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