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.


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