|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".
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.