Friday, March 29, 2013

Technology and the Kenyan Elections

Dear readers

I do not know if you have seen my op Ed Al Jazeera today.

Here is my big takeaway.

The Kenyan election of 2013 can teach scholars, and observers of democratisation numerous lessons. First, a completely successful election in Kenya as well as other parts of Africa depends on large part on processes with high levels of transparency, consensus, and a careful chain of custody of votes. Second, technology must be carefully tested far in advance of elections, and care should be taken to identify weaknesses. Third, governments and civil society can work together to create independent institutions with clear rules, and well-trained voting officials. Finally, the 2010 Kenyan Constitution has helped to create institutions and laid out rules to promote democracy, which has already led to improved electoral outcomes.

For the rest, click here.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tension as Supreme Court Reviews Election Results

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga (third from left) leads the Supreme Court during the pre-trial conference on March 25, 2013. he other judges are (from left) Njoki Ndung’u, Jackton Ojwang’, Philip Tunoi, Mohammed Ibrahim and Smokin Wanjala Credit. Nation Group.
My cousins tell me that Nairobi is at a standstill as all wait for the Kenyan Supreme Court to issue its ruling on Saturday

The Kenyan Supreme Court ordered a recount of votes cast at 22 polling station. The re-tallying is meant to determine if the votes casted exceeded the number of those registered. The court also ordered the inspection of all forms 34 and 36 used by the IEBC in tallying the results.

AFRICOG and Odinga argued before the Supreme Court that various polling stations had increased Kenyatta’s number between when local polling stations announced publically their totals and when the numbers reached the tallying center. Since Kenyatta only hit the 50% mark by 8,400 votes, they are demanding the votes to bee invalidated. For example, in once center, Nyeri Country, they announced publically that Kenyatta won 53,252 votes but the election commission reported that he won 55,726. They are asserting that this would trigger a run-off election. (Washington Post, March 27, 2013)

The African Centre for Open Governance (AFRICOG), which is generally viewed as being on the CORD side, requested that the IEBC produce marked voter registers used during the March 4 election. They allege registers the court currently has in their possession (electronic) are not the registers actually used during the election (manual). Africog’s lawyer argued that over 70,000 voter discrepancies exist between the electronic and marked registers. Counsel Kethi Kilonzo explained that it was only the principal register that could verify the actual number of registered voters. IEBC’s lawyer Paul Nyamodi stated that the request to supply the registers was unreasonable and was filed late, therefore cannot be accommodated. He said that to gather all the registers in the 33,400 polling stations would take about 2 weeks but would gladly avail them at the petitioner’s expense. Chief Willy Mutunga said the court would decide on Wednesday. (All Africa, March 26, 2013)

At the end of the day,  the Kenyan Supreme Court rejected an application by Odinga to carry out a forensic audit of the IEBC information technology systems used during the election. The court stated the application was time-bared as it was filled 4 days after filing the petition. The application would require production of the IEBC’s entire IT system, which is not feasible. If the application would have been submitted at the time of the initial filing, it would have been possible for the court to order IEBC to provide the audit. (March 26, 2013)

Justice Philip Tunoi ruled that an additional affidavit (nearly 900 pages long) filed by Odinga will be removed from the records as they were filed after his initial petition. “The court said that it could not shoulder the burden of the omissions of the petitioners, who failed to make available all the affidavits in time or seek through an oral application, the leave of the court to file the affidavits.” There is no provision for additional affidavits in the Supreme Court rules, it is left to the court’s discretion.

The judges ruling on Saturday will focus on four core issues.
  • The first issue, he said, is: Whether the Third and Fourth Respondents (Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto) were validly elected and declared as President-elect and Deputy President-elect of the Republic of Kenya, respectively, by the Second Respondent (Ahmed Issack Hassan) in the Presidential Elections held on the 4th of March 2013.
  • The second is: Whether the presidential election held on March 4, 2013 was conducted in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution and all relevant provisions of the law.
  • The third is: Whether the rejected votes ought to have been included in determining the final tallies of votes in favour of each of the presidential candidates by the First and Second Respondents (IEBC and Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan).
  • The fourth is: What consequential declarations, orders and reliefs should the court grant based on the above determinations. 

Technology, Transparency and Tallying


Edge of a computer screen
Two things stand out in the Kenyan General Election of 2013:  IEBC’s late procurement of both services and equipment related to the election, and the fact that all technology should have been tested and debugged far in advance of the election. The failures that occurred were both foreseeable and preventable. Of note was the failure to plan for backup power. Electricity fails routinely in Nairobi, and is often absent in rural areas altogether. In addition, the cell phones and biometric scanners were not procured until approximately one month before the election, and were most likely not tested sufficiently for either load or other stresses.  Professor Makau Mutua asks whether the collapse of the computer systems during vote tallying was due to incompetence, technological illiteracy, or lack of adequate preparation. The most likely answer is a lack of adequate preparation, combined with a failure to follow good advice. 

Despite the massive technological failures, it can be argued that their main impact was a significant delay in reporting the results, not the integrity of the election itself. Importantly, the physical count of votes was the final and official record of the election. The manual voter register worked well to identify voters at the polling station level. No vote count was finalized at the polling station level without agreement of the presiding officer and political party agents. This process was repeated again as all presiding officers reported their numbers to the reporting officer in full view of political party agents and observers at the constituency level. All marked and unused ballots were locked into the transparent tally boxes with final numbers. Those boxes were tracked from polling station level to the constituency level, and eventually flown to Bomas to ensure that the final vote was correct.

The idea that manual ballots trump electronic systems is widely accepted internationally. A symposium on Voting, Vote Capture, and Vote Counting was held at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in June 2004 in the wake of the counting failures in the Bush vs. Gore presidential race in the US. At that event scholars indicated that best practices for a secure voting system include a hybrid system that includes paper for audit and an electronic system for speed and flexibility. Ironically, their study noted that digital systems can actually produce more complex failure modes and concluded that paper ballots, carefully tracked through a custody chain remain necessary to ensure accurate voting outcomes. The Kenyan election of 2013 illustrates those conclusions well.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Global Justice, Accountability and the Kenyan election

As we move forward please consider the following views by scholars. I am personally familiar with the work of all three of these scholars, and I respect their views.

Jendayi Frazer

Jendayi Frazer--former US Assistant Secretary for State for African Affairs, former Harvard Kennedy School Professor, and current adjunct senior fellow for Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations-- critiques the role of the ICC in the recent Kenyan election. She makes several important points that I think are worth noting. First, she notes that The Supreme Court of Kenya correctly allowed Uhuru Kenyatta to run on February 15, 2013 because the ICC cannot bar candidates. Second, she argues that the ICC was pre-emptively trying to try and convict Uhuru Kenyatta in the court of public opinion. Further, she states that the ICC's legitimacy has been compromised by the fact that Luis Moreno Ocampo has only found cases of atrocities and crimes against humanity in Africa. ICC has Fallen Fromt the High Ideals of Global Justice, Accountability, Jendayi Frazer Daily Nation, March 16, 2013. Most importantly, she states that "Kenya's new institutions must be respected and allowed to operate autonomously."

Mahmood Mamdani
 The world renowned Africanist Mahmood Mamdani, whose work  I teach in my class, ( I recommend Citizen and Subject, among other books) weighs in as well. He argues that there were two key issues in this election, land and the ICC.  Indeed, tragically, the three largest landowners in Kenya are its three presidential families, Kenyatta, Moi, and Kibaki. (As an aside, this fact breaks my heart, and it indicates to me that since Independence, Kenya has been more of a predatory state than a developmental one.) Mamdani notes that the explanation for the ethnic reconciliation which occurred this March the 4th between the Kalenjin and the Kikuyu can be found in the domestic impact of the ICC. He argues that the ICC re-ethnicised Kenyan politics, re-dividing the country into two large ethnic coalitions. Kenya 2013: The ICC Election, Mahmood Mamdani, Al Jazeera March 15, 2013

Makau Mutua
  Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. (He has an excellent book entitled Kenya's Quest for Democracy, Lynne Rienner Press) He emphasizes the need for the candidates to accept the court's opinion, even if they disagree with it. He notes that for an election to be gree and fair, there must be universal suffrage. All eligible voters must be able to register in credible, verifiable, tamper proof rolls. Candidates must enjoy an environment free of repression. The state must not favor a candidate or doctor the process. He emphasizes the need for the IEBC to be independent. What Is Odinga's Case Against Uhuru Kenyatta? Makau Mutua, The Daily Nation, March 16, 2013 Importantly he notes

"The Supreme Court would most likely nullify the presidential vote if it's proved the numbers tampered with were sufficient to cannibalise the 'will of the voters.' But this is a tall order, and the statistical evidence must be damn near impeccable."

Food for thought, indeed. 


Friday, March 15, 2013

Trouble at Kenyatta University and other news

The Daily Nation reports that

Kenyatta University students on Friday went on the rampage after unused election materials were discovered in the institution.

The students smashed windows and broke into the Business Students Service Centre where the materials had been kept.

However, the administration explained that the materials were in a room that had been used as a tallying centre by the IEBC.

The commission had hired the university facilities from February 22 to March 15 and election officials were to clear up yesterday when the rental ended.

The IEBC materials included jackets, stamps, marker pens, ballot boxes, ballot papers for presidential, governor and women representative for Nairobi  County.

Read more at "Riots at Kenyatta University"

Unless the students found actual unused ballots, this is a non-starter!

I do hope there are no riots. From what I saw, the police and military are very well trained. I am praying things do not get out of hand.

In other news, the VOA reports that Raila will be filing his election challenge on Saturday

Cord has also withdrawn a demand that Safaricom release a printout of all messages sent through the hand-held transmission devices; contracts signed with IEBC in connection with the General Election and information transmitted to the IEBC server on March 4 and 5.

Safaricom welcomed the withdrawal of the petition.

That would have been a lot of text messages . . .  


That Pesky ICC Matter

Logo of the ICC

I was a professor at the American University in Cairo during the year of Revolution (2011). I loved all my students, and I have taught a leadership class there every summer since. But one thing I noticed is that Egyptians do not know how to have a conversation. I love you guys, but every small dispute becomes a shouting match. Parliament is dismissed, and Tahrir has become the parliament of the streets. One thing I love about Kenyans is how calm they are. Perhaps it is innate, and perhaps it is the British influence, but Kenyans are generally a reserved and controlled people.

One of the issues that is really raising temperatures in the post-election environment is the debate about the Hague.

One of my good, helpful ICT colleagues whom I respect enormously said to me

"the fact that the new President is in the Hague should be the main
focus of ALL press coverage!"

TNA Campaign Poster in Kikuyu (photo credit the author)

And my beloved GA wrote (I requested her views on this matter) states

"I think it's ridiculous that the main political figures have charges as severe as "crimes against humanity." During the second debate [the candidates] spent quite a bit of time talking about everyone's numerous acts of corruption and it was quite frustrating to see everyone complacent. "Eh, it wasn't as bad as it sounds, or that was the other prime ministers."[  .. . ]  Not to say that politics/ politicians aren't similar everywhere, but it seemed so blatant. I chew on how severe the phrase sounds (and in reality should be: the charge is): crimes against humanity. It seems like something out of a science fiction novel. So yes, the fact that people were worried of whether or not Ruto and Kenyatta would be "distracted" by the court hearings and whether they could run the administration from Skype is a slap in the face to how serious these charges are, or should be. If Odinga should have been charged too, then yes, it's ridiculous that he was running [ . . . ] I saw articles talking about how citizens had amnesia. Apparently!"

Then Gathara reminds us of this point. Gathara's World

We had already normalized the abnormal, making it seem perfectly acceptable to have two ICC-indicted politicians on the ballot. At the first presidential debate, moderator Linus Kaikai had been more concerned with how Uhuru Kenyatta would “govern if elected president and at the same time attend trial as a crimes against humanity subject” and not whether he should be running at all. Any suggestion of consequences for Uhuru’s and William Ruto’s candidature had been rebuffed with allegations of neo-colonialism, interference and an implied racism. People who had spent their adult lives fighting for Kenyans’ justice and human rights were vilified as stooges for the imperialistic West for suggesting that the duo should first clear their names before running for the highest office in the land.

Uhuruto Poster in English (photo credit the author)

So my question to the audience is, given that the Kenyan people elected two persons who have been indicted by the ICC, how do we move forward? Kenyans have spoken. Even if the court decides that there were serious election violations, and that a runoff is needed, Kenyatta won by a large margin. Kenyans may be wrong, but this is what they decided. Now what?

The last line of a recent Jeffrey Gettleman piece in the New York Times caught my attention.

Now that the two have won, many supporters wonder why the International Criminal Court cases are even necessary. 

“If Uhuru and Ruto have succeeded in reconciling warring communities, isn’t that the point?” asked Edward Kirathe, a real estate developer. “What other interest does the I.C.C. have?”


Moto Sana, Cool Down

Found a cool image for the above. Check these bad boys out. Maybe they know what they are doing!

Wenzangu, can we make an agreement with each other? Can we just have a conversation? I feel that the coverage of this election is polarizing folks. The media,journalists, observers, activists, and scholars are as stressed out and angry after the election (such that it is) as CORD and Jubilee candidates going in. We all need to just take a deep breath and relax. As my very calm Kenyan cousins are always telling me, "Cool Down."

There is a war of words going on regarding media coverage. I research the nexus between science and technology and the state, and lately, have spent a lot of time on information and communications technology (ICT). ICTs include television, radio, and yes, print media, which is increasingly carried online.

To paraphrase Nelly, "it's getting hot in herre" (C'mon, I am in the diaspora) or as a Kenyan might say, "moto sana."

Poor Michela Wrong, she is just inciting the wrath of the Kenyan blogosphere. But it is a fair matchup, World class author, New York Times blogger and well recognized British journo against the beautiful Kenyan TV journalist Terryane Chebet.

Terryanne is not too happy. Wrong is Wrong You really need to read Terry's piece for yourself, but here is the rundown. She writes "being a reporter in Africa does not make you an expert in African matters." In this sentence, she echoes a sentiment which my former classmate, BBC Reporter Komla Dumor made in a recent talk Telling the African Story. (Disclaimer- I am stealing this link from Terry, but Komla and I went to the JFK School together, so forgive me dada.)

So back to Terry. She is rightfully incensed that for some reason African journalists do not get to run coverage on Africa. I was a little puzzled about this in the coverage of the Kenyan election. Damn, I miss Jeff Koinange. That voice! Koinange at Arise . Why was he not front and center on the coverage? I just do not get it.

Terry is unhappy that Michela Wrong has, in her view, unfairly insinuated that the Kenyan media is corrupt. She notes that "there is a weighing scale that measures the peace and economic future of an entire country against the telling of anxiety that couldn't really be filmed, as really nothing had happened yet."

Okay, so read Terry's article and tell me what you think. Then, there is Gathara. He makes some valuable points. I linked to his article in a previous post, so check out his work. I like his thoughts here, although I am not sure I agree with them.

It is said that truth is the first casualty of war. In this case the war was internal, hidden from all prying eyes. Who cares about the veracity of the poll result? So what if not all votes were counted? We had peace. “The peace lobotomy,” one tweet called it. “Disconnect brain, don't ask questions, don't criticize. Just nod quietly.”

What maturity is this that trembles at the first sign of disagreement or challenge? What peace lives in the perpetual shadow of a self-annihilating violence?

So Gathara, ndugu, I watched the election. I think if not all the votes were counted we need a recount for those contested areas. That is the normal procedure. I am not just nodding quietly, really, I am not. I am just saying that let the process play itself out.

So what I am disagreeing with or challenging is this. Is the fix in? Call me crazy, but I saw a peaceful, free and fair election in the 5 polling stations I was at. That is my story and I am sticking to it. I went to one out of 290 constituencies and then to Bomas. I am waiting to hear about the other 289.

I am beginning to feel like I am considered an "apologist" or a brainless, knee-jerk Jubilee advocate for stating this position.  (I think I made it clear in an earlier post that I hold no truck with UK) But I refuse to let my views conform to the hegemonic discourse when that is not what I saw.  Let's count the 30 constituencies that are having problems. Lets see what happened. Let's let our well trained, highly capable Kenyan jurists have their moment. Lets have a discussion about the spoiled ballots, and how to handle that, and rafiki, lets not panic.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Legal Battles in the Kenyan Election

Supreme Court judges from left: Njoki Ndung'u, Jackton Ojwang, Philip Tunoi and Chief Justice Willy Mutunga during a November 15, 2011 sitting.  Photo by PAUL WAWERU. Photo Credit: Daily Nation.

As previously noted, according to the IEBC, Uhuru Kenyatta has (arguably) won the presidency as he received just over 50 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff election with rival Raila Odinga. At least for now . . . . . Immediately after the IEBC made this announcement, Odinga stated that he would challenge the result with a petition to the Supreme court citing irregularities and asserting that the IEBC supporting a “tainted” electoral process (Mutai). Odinga is expected to file an official petition sometime this week. Odinga has seven days after the election results are announced to file a grievance and the Supreme Court has another 14 days to rule whether a recount or new election is warranted (Wallstreet Journal). 

Many praised Kenya’s election process as it was peaceful. However, the technical problems have raised concerns. These challenges have been confirmed by the IEBC including the electronic voter identification kit failing, forcing the IEBC to switch to manual identification. Also, the electronic transmissions of votes malfunctioned.  (Mutai). The IEBC however, denies any foul play or wrongdoing.

Claims have been made by CORD (Odinga's party) that over 30 constituencies in which voter turn out total was more than 100%. A political consultant told Al Jazeera, “purely from a legal point of view, they have a very strong chance of success- they have pretty good, solid grounds for filing the case” (Aljazeera). Others agreed, Joel Barkan, a renowned African scholar (whom I have met) at the Washington, D.C.- based Center for Strategic and International Studies, acknowledges that the breakdown and delays have given people a right to question the election’s validity. “Odinga’s supporters have legitimate questions that have to be answered before this election an be accepted. Kenyatta may in fact have won the election, but that hasn’t been demonstrated to supporters of Odinga nor to logical people watching the election” (Wallstreet Journal). Professor Barkan, their questions should be answered, but I am a logical person who watched this election.

All are pleased that the dispute has been brought to the court instead of the streets, in my view a real sign that Kenya's legal institutions are strengthening, but some believe the results are credible and nothing good will come from Odinga’s claims or a court ruling. The Court may order the districts that are accused of foul play or errors to recount or order a completely new election, which many urge against as they country is quite fatigued. Even with a recount, tensions are expected to mount. “With Kenyatta's total count just over 8,000 votes above the 50 percent mark, and with around 100,000 rejected ballots, a recount in these areas could cause Kenyatta's tally to drop below the crucial 50 per cent threshold, triggering a run-off election” (Aljazeera). The petition will test Kenya's judicial reforms and the independence of its high court. However, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga declared that the supreme court will handle any challenge in a fair, impartial, without fear, and speedy manner that is in accordance to the constitution (Reuters).

The issue of Kenyatta and his running mate on trial for the ICC is also of major concern. New York Times explains that western powers, including the U.S., have congratulated Kenya on a peaceful election, but has yet to identify, or congratulate Kenyatta directly.  “It is not clear what the West will actually do given that Kenya has become such a strategic partner in a volatile region” (New York Times).

~WMB (with assistance from Jillian Underwood)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stressed OUT!

Raila Odinga flanked by CORD party members. Photo Credit, Nation Media.
Just finished chatting with a Masai friend and a Luo friend, and both are in an uproar. Good grief. Can this election just stop turning from sweet to sour?

My Luo friend says that if the Supreme Court does not rule correctly, the Luo may secede from Kenya!

My Masai friend says "the CEO and Chairman of IEBC got bribed and were threatened if they refused to take the bribe."

I am really struggling with their version.  I am struggling because if it is true, everything I thought I saw is a sham. I am also struggling because I just do not want to believe things can go this wrong, this fast.

I am not going to rely on rumours. Going back to a technical level, here is my logic.
  1. Lets assume that the vote was valid at the polling station level. I think it was, because at the five polling stations I was at all political party agents had to agree on the vote.
  2. Let's assume the vote was valid at the constituency level. I think it was, because agents and politicians were there, and scores of observers, and it is quite a trick to get 10 presiding officers to tamper with the vote in full view of the media, observers, political party agents (hundreds) and the candidates themselves.
  3. Then, at that point, you have to demonstrate that a sufficient number of votes were tampered between the constituency level and Bomas to really turn the election. Remember that there were 290 constituencies.
I want to hear from the following sources 1) the Carter Center 2) the European Union and then . . . . .

Here is the preliminary EU report EU election observer mission to Kenya

Here is the ELOG report Elections Observer Group

I am just going to hang tight and see what the Kenyan Supreme Court has to say.


Some good reading

Habari wananchi

While I get my head together, check out some good reading. Mostly different than what I have to say. But you know what the best part of democracy is? Having a good conversation.

The Monsters Under the House  (Gathara) 

Expat Lives: The London of Africa  (Katrina J. Manson)

Peace vs. Truth: An Unnecessary Tradeoff  (Muthoni Wanyeki)

Thanks to my friend AB. She publishes this. Ratio Magazine

Here is her take 

Post Election Thoughts: Silence or Sensationalism?



Tuko Pamoja

Dedan Kimathi

I am trying to get back to that irie space I was feeling a few days ago, so just some positive music and some restful vibes.

A few days after the last election, I wrote an op ed in the Boston Globe called Moving Forward in Kenya. In January 2008, these were my words.

For hundreds of years, 42 ethnic and linguistic groups have lived peacefully together in Kenya, with high rates of intermarriage, trade, and in-migration. This violence [referring to the violence of the 2007 election] obscures deep social inequities in economic distribution that cross ethnic lines among all groups.

For 40 years, Kenya has been as a haven for refugees and a broker for peace settlements, avoiding the type of wrenching violence that has torn neighbors Sudan, Rwanda, and Somalia apart while earning a reputation as the most democratic nation in the region. Without immediate efforts toward national reconciliation [. . . ] Kenya risks descent into autocracy and civil war.

A few days after the 2013 election, I am grateful to Baba Mungu that my words today are happier. During the election period, I looked at my own family. We do not comprise 42 groups, but we represent many sides of this great nation. I looked at my office, and I looked at my sister in law, and I said, you know what, in our family, we have nchi mzima: the whole nation. My mother, a Kikuyu, married an mzungu (a white American). One of my aunts married a Kamba. My cousin married an African American who is Jewish. My husband is technically Kikuyu, but was raised on the coast. His brothers are Muslim, and are married to Wanawake waswahili. My children's last name is Ngaruiya, which means they have Maasai blood. 

So in my immediate family, we have Jews, Christians and Muslims. In terms of communities, we have

Kizungu (white)
and our chief officer manager is a Kao!

You know what the phrase I heard the most during this election period was?  "Tuko Pamoja". Yes, that is right, we are together. Because at the end of the day, as a people, as African people, as Kenyan people, as the diaspora, as people of different languages, communities, and histories we did this together. Whatever else you have to say about technological failures or court cases or the ICC, we got through this election peacefully, and that, my friends, is worth celebrating.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Feeling Frustrated with Change in Press Tone about Kenyan Presidential Election

Polling Booth in Thika. Election Day March 4, 2013. Photo Credit: the author.

The happiness just could not last. For seven days, I have been very happy, thrilled to participate in a peaceful, transparent election in Kenya with a clear outcome. Now, the happiness is fading.

What I saw with my own eyes was an election that was more fair and transparent than many American elections that I have participated in. Were there problems? Yes. Did they mar the integrity of the election as a whole? Not in my view.

Of course, I am only one person. We do need to wait and see what the Carter Center has to say. I ran into several Carter Center observers in the course of my travels. Carter Center Congratulates Voters on Peaceful Elections.

I feel a little bit as though the international media was looking for problems, and when they could find violence, they had to focus on allegations of rigging. My friend Mwanicks and I agree on this. Press Statement March 9, 2013 for Immediate Release to the International Media

Al Jazeera is really focusing on the Odinga perspective. Sigh. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I am not a big fan of either Odinga or Kenyatta. I really liked Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth, and would have been very happy with Mudavadi. Of course, they all did not make it. So, I am not starting from a position of having believed that Kenyatta "should" have won. But, as an observer what I saw is that from the very beginning, Kenyatta had a sizeable lead, 10 percentage points at its largest. So, the idea that he did not "win" even when all irregularities are taken into account, is somewhat surprising.

I do not think it is inflammatory or unfair to characterize Odinga as "dramatic." He likes a good narrative, and frankly, from my observations, he likes trouble. I am very glad that he has taken his case to the Kenyan Supreme Court. Kenya's Odinga: From the Polls to the Court It sounds like the case will be presented on Tuesday or Wednesday, which is fast. Again, I am annoyed that the international press is making it sound like that is slow. I am an attorney, and people need time to prepare their cases.

I participated in a symposium on voting, vote counting, at Harvard in 2004. We argued that at the end of the day, manual results are what matter. I cannot figure out how to link it, but here is the cite, and you can pull it up easily from Google. L. Jean Camp, Warigia Bowman & Allan Friedman Voting, Vote Capture & Vote Counting Symposium, Proceedings of the 6th Annual National Conference on Digital Government Research, 15-18 May 2005 (Atlanta, GA). pp. 198 .

Indeed, Al Jazeera notes

After electronic vote tallying meant to provide provisional results within 48 hours collapsed the day after polling day, the system was abandoned, and officials reverted to a manual count - which had always been the planned method to establish the definitive result.

Odinga alleges there was massive tampering with the voter register.  I find that a bit hard to believe, as each voter register was locked into the ballot box at the end of the tally, so I will be interested to see what evidence CORD provides to prove this. 

If the Supreme Court agrees with CORD's evidence, there may be a runoff, which will expensive and destabilizing, and may, in my view, heighten the probability of violence. 

What I feel good about is that my perspective as an official elections observer matches nicely with that of both ELOG and the European Union. 

But such cases [of electoral irregularities] remain isolated examples, said election observers. European Union observers praised Kenya for "demonstrating a strong commitment to democratic elections" in an "ambitious undertaking".

Kenya's own Elections Observation Group (ELOG) said the results announced fell within the expected range for each candidate. "ELOG is confident the process was generally credible," the group's chairman, Kennedy Masime, told reporters.

I just hope that the international media and international multilateral organizations are willing to let Kenya have its success. Let the country, (and the IEBC) have a day in the sun. Let us all get back to work. 


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hongera Uhuru!

The East African is reporting that Uhuru Kenyatta has been declared Kenya's fourth president elect. The IEBC has declared Kenyatta the winner of Kenya's election.

According to the East African

Mr Kenyatta garnered 6,173,433 votes out of 12,330,028 total votes cast in the March 4 General Election.

This translates to 50.07 per cent of the vote.

Mr Odinga came second after polling 5,340,546 which represents 43.31 per cent of the vote.

Both candidates met the other requirement of winning at least 25 per cent of the vote in more than half of the country's 47 counties.

I am proud and excited and exhilarated to have been part of this historic process, which in my view as an accredited observer was free and fair. 

Hongera Uhuru!


Friday, March 8, 2013

Days pass as we wait for the Kenyan Presidential Results

Dear readers

I am back in the US now. I feel that my experience watching the Kenyan elections was exhilarating and overwhelmingly positive. Personally, from what I saw, I have a high level of confidence in the IEBC process from what I saw. We still are praying for peace.

When I left Nairobi, over 24 hours ago, people were getting tense waiting for the presidential results. I noticed that the news media were not reporting total percentages for the presidential race anymore. Instead they were reporting official results constituency by constituency. I SPECULATE that this was done to keep things calm both inside and outside of Bomas.

I cannot even get onto the Daily Nation, which is my preferred paper (owned by the Aga Khan). Perhaps the Internet load is too high. The standard is up, and the IEBC is up, although I hear they are updating results to their website manually. I am going to use the East African, which is owned by Nation Media group, as a proxy for the Nation.

I just want to note that, as a matter of logic, the votes from the presidential election must be in and tallied at Bomas. They have already announced the MPs for all 47 counties. Because I watched the votes being counted I know that they counted the presidential race first, before the MP race. Thus, logically, it stands to reason that the numbers of the presidential race are known. I SPECULATE that the delay is being caused by friction between CORD and Jubilee about the final vote count.

The IEBC is reporting results from 14176/31981 of polling stations, in other words, about one half of the votes have been officially verified. The IEBC website, which you can find here  is showing TNA candidate Uhuru Kenyatta leading with 53% with 2,900,198 votes, at the time I am writing this. Conversely, Raila Odinga of the CORD coalition has 2,278,602 votes, for 42% of the total presidential vote. Mudavadi has 3% with 156, 296 votes, Peter Kenneth has 1% with 32,391 votes, and Martha Wangari Karua of Narc Kenya with 20,002 votes or less than 1 percent.

So, the Standard Newspaper is generally considered to be a bit more pro-CORD, whereas the Nation is considered to be a bit more pro-TNA. Nonetheless, the Standard is a reputable media house, so lets see what they say. They are reporting that with results from 153/290 constituencies by 10.20 p.m. Kenya time, Uhuru Kenyatta maintained a lead of  318, 610 votes. The Standard writes that

"Mr Raila Odinga’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy protested over the incoming results, questioned the process at which they were arrived at, and called for cancellation and fresh start of totaling."

Based on what I saw, I think that the technical failures in the election were dissapointing. However, I think the integrity of the election was very sound, and that the manual process was nearly impossible to rig. I observed tallying at the polling station level, and at the constituency level. I also went to Bomas. It is my view that the only way to rig this election was to steal trucks with ballot boxes (which did actually occur in Mombasa) or to somehow agree at the constituency level among all presiding officers. This would be enormously difficult to pull off, given that at the constituency I went to the POs worked in full view of an audience of 300 political party agents, candidates, and swarms of media and observers. 

The East African (Nation Media Group) is reporting 237 of 290 constituencies reporting. Uhuru Kenyatta has 49.7 percent votes, (5115704) and that Raila Odinga has 43.9 votes (4513233). Under the Kenyan constitution, to win in the first round, a candidate must have 51 percent of the vote, as well as at least 25 Percent of the vote in half of the counties (24). Uhuru has reached this threshold in 31 counties, and Raila has reached this threshold in at least 29 counties. The issue then will be whether Uhuru makes it to 51 percent. 

I ran into Muthoni Wanyeki at Bomas of Kenya thsi week. Writing before the election in the East African, she said Let's hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Another issue that was raised is whether the 51 percent should be out of all ballots cast, or out of valid ballots. I will address that in a different post. 

My reporters in the field tell me that people think "Uhuru might win this thing." They tell me that tension in Nairobi is not bad and that "guys jus' want this thing over & done with."

Signing off now to deal with my jet lag. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A long day at Bomas waiting for Kenyan election results

I spent a few hours at Bomas of Kenya today, which is where the tallying center for the General Election Kenya 2013 is.

The Bomas tallying center was very quiet. In the time I was there, they only announced results of two constituencies: Rongo (in Nyanza- a Raila stronghold) and Undanyi (on the Coast-voting is mixed). The depressing thing is that hours after I returned home, the news is still reporting these same results, with the addition of Kajiado Central (where Raila won)

My understanding is that the electronic machinery at Bomas really stopped working, so now they are going back to manually verifying the tallies.

The downside is that the technology failed. Another huge downside is that the delay is painful and may be causing wananchi (citizens) to panic. Rumors are flying on facebook.

The upside, and the big upside, in my view, is that the election remains peaceful. People are going to work. Streets are not empty, but they are not full eitheri. The manual technology works perfectly well. And from what I saw, the procedures implemented make rigging extremely difficult.

So, I prefer to see the glass half full.

Results have changed little from my last report. Due to the manual tally occuring in Bomas, this process could be slow. Based on what I have seen, I think they have reports of all the votes that have been cast. What is likely delaying the process is that agents must agree on the vote before they release it to the press.

At this rate, this vote counting could take a week.

I am going to be boarding a plane in a few hours, but I will keep posting my analysis.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Update on Second day of Counting in Kenyan Election

Yesterday was a whirlwind. I went to observe voting at five polling stations.

First things first, at 10:52 p.m., Uhuru Kenyatta is leading with 53.37 percent (2,783,964) to Raila Odinga's 42.05 percent (2,194,105). Over 42.8 percent of votes have been counted. This ten point lead has been consisten for over ten hours.

In other news, according to twitter, a British press outfit reported that Uhuru is a Luo and Odinga a Kikuyu. That was an epic fail, but somehow charming, given the country's efforts to craft a national, less ethnic identity.

So yesterday I went to observe polling stations in Downtown Nairobi (Khalsa school), Kasarani, Thika, Muranga (Gutito) and Othaya (Othaya Poytechnic). I did not make it to Kihome polling station on time.

Overall the voting was very peaceful and orderly. However the lines in Nairobi, Kasarani and Thika were incredibly long. In Thika, we measured lines over two kilometers.

Incredibly long voting lines in Thika on March 4, 2013
 The most exciting aspect of the election for me was watching the presiding officer and her IEBC staff count the presidential vote in Othaya Polytechnic polling station, Othaya Constituency, Nyeri County. She was very professional, and very thorough. She did a great job of maintaining order. Each room was filled with political party agents who had to verify the votes. She spiilled the votes onto the table, and picked each one up, showing it to the agents who verbally verified the designee.  Through this process the ballots were sorted into piles, which produced a provisional count. Then the ballots were counted.Finally, the ballots were bundled, and placed into the transparent tub with all unused ballots in a sealed plastic envelope, as well as the manual voter roll.The ballot box for the presidency was then sealed. Then, the provisional results were sent via telephone to the IEBC tally center in Nairobi, with the ballot papers serving as official results in case of a dispute. The process was very transparent, very organized, and seemed very difficult to rig.

Presiding Officer places presidential ballots on the table in Othaya Polytechnic Polling Station

Right now, people are very worried that the election results were taking too long to trickle in. There are concerns that tensions may rise as delays increase. People are staying indoors, and the city is completely quiet. I cannot even hear one matatu.


Monday, March 4, 2013

The Day of the Kenya Election

Today was a long and exciting day observing the polls. So far it looks like Uhuru Kenyatta has the lead but it is still early.

Overall a success with a few hiccups: Long lines, technical problems at polls, and a handful of instances of violence.

 Started the day in Nairobi. People were awake at 2 a.m. to vote and by 8 a.m. I personally saw three lines that were over half a mile long but Thika road, which is a six-lane highway, was empty of cars!

Around 9:45 I joined my sister-in law to vote at Khalsa School in Nariobi. Even with my press pass, which sent me to the front of the line, it took over 40 minutes to get inside the polling station. However, once we got the front of the line, it only took 5 minutes to vote.

When we were done we measured the voting line outside the Kasarni secondary school in Nairobi with our car and it was over a mile and a half long!

After Narobi, I traveled to Thika, an exurb of Nairobi in Kiambu county. Thika is very ethnically diverse with Kamba, Kikuyu, Luo, and Luyha. During my observations in Thika, it was overall very peaceful and orderly, however, there were some major technical concerns. The biometric machine, which is used to verify people’s identity, quit working since the battery ran down and there was no way to charge it. Other problems included people having trouble putting the six different ballot paper into the correct boxes.

Similar problems occurred in Muranga, the fourth polling station I observed. The biometric scanner, as well as the phone for transmitting votes was broken. Fortunately, by the time I arrived (around 3 p.m.) 86% of those registered had voted. Again, consistent long lines for the polls. NTV Kenya reported that those in queue as of 5p.m. would be allowed to vote, which for some areas required the polls to be open for quite some time. 

Although overall peaceful (so far), there were a few instances of violence.

The main instance occurred before the polls even opened, two senior police officers were killed in Mombasa. CNN reports that at least eight other people were killed and Prime Minster Raila Odinga fingered the Mombasa Republican Council, a separatists group as those responsible. He also insisted that this was a premeditated attack, not a spontaneous act of violence. Hundreds of police officers were dispatched to the coast province to keep the peace. 

Updated by: Jillian Underwood, Graduate Student, Clinton School of Public Service