Why did we vote? Was it worth it? We’ll soon know

Saturday March 16 2013

Just a week has passed since the handing over of the certificate of presidential elections results to Uhuru Kenyatta.

But, slowly, over time, the mood has shifted. We are still self-questioning. As we must be. But we are also beginning to ask the questions we must about the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya.

How did it happen that every guarantee recommended by the Independent Review Commission failed? Because the failure of both biometric identification and electronic transmission systems is not about technological failure alone.

It is about the failure of two critical lines of defence. First, ensuring that only validly registered voters cast their ballots and do so only once. And second, that problems of counting, tallying and transmission of results are guarded against.

It is already clear that the breach of these two lines of defence has introduced questions as to the accuracy of the results.

Even a cursory comparison of the provisional voters register against the online (and deemed official) voters register as well as the numbers of registered voters drawn from the announcements of official results reveals inconsistencies.


A deeper analysis of the patterns of these inconsistencies shows an interesting alignment of deletions from one political party stronghold and additions to another party stronghold.

Then there is the maths. The numbers in the announced official results do not add up. The numbers in the online official results differ from the announced official results.

There are differences within constituencies between the numbers cast at each level of the vote — with the presidential vote registering consistently and significantly higher numbers than the votes for the five other levels.

What does this all mean?

First, it means that we should understand why the decisions made by a section of civil society and one political party to take these concerns before the Supreme Court are so critical.

We deserve to know what happened to our vote. We deserve to know whether the IEBC upheld its legal mandate to guarantee the integrity of the vote. If not, we deserve to know why.

It is that slow-dawning realisation that is responsible for the nervous calm that seems to now pertain. Is the Supreme Court aware of the weight now upon its shoulders? It would seem so from the Chief Justice’s request to the media to broadcast its deliberations on any electoral petitions live. It would also seem so from the decision to observe the same deliberations by the African Judges Forum.

What then is the weight upon our own shoulders? We must pay attention to what is submitted before the courts. We must weigh it ourselves. And we must commit ourselves to also come to our own conclusions about the Supreme Court’s handling of the electoral petitions.

But whatever those conclusions may be, we must also accept that our Constitution provides for no further redress for anybody still aggrieved.

Which means then yet further responsibility for us — to exercise what constitutional freedoms and rights we still have to association and expression.

Establishing a public record is important. The truth about what has happened to us is important. To this day, we do not know what happened to our vote in 2007.

The Supreme Court’s deliberations are meant to save us from that fate this time round. If they do not, we may as well never vote again.

L. Muthoni Wanyeki is doing her graduate studies at L’Institut d’etudes politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, France