Electoral outcome reflects fruits of reforms to strengthen system

Thursday August 17 2017

Running results for Kenya's presidential elections appear on a giant screen at the national tally centre on August 9, 2017 in Nairobi. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP

Running results for Kenya's presidential elections appear on a giant screen at the national tally centre on August 9, 2017 in Nairobi. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP 

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The process and outcome of the August 8 General Election reflects the fruits of the electoral system reforms undertaken since the historic repeal of Section 2 (A) of the old Constitution in December 1991, which turned Kenya into a multi-party state.

The reforms paid off, considering the generally accepted outcome of the presidential poll and all other layers of the governance system implemented under the 2010 Constitution.

Kenyans across the country and independent election observers, including those from the European Union, African Union, Carter Centre and other respected international bodies agreed that Kenya achieved best practice in delivering a credible election.

National Super Alliance presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, and his brigade, were isolated in questioning the integrity of the results, in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner with 54 per cent of the votes cast, against Mr Odinga’s 45 percent.


Jubilee Party also achieved a remarkable majority of governors, senators, MPs, woman representatives and county assembly members.

The ruling party has gained a capacity to push through its agenda, fixing the problem that President Kenyatta experienced in his first term of navigating through opposition dominated national and county assemblies.

The most significant reform was the biometric voter registration that enabled the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to integrate electronic voter identification with a manual voting and counting.

The results were uploaded onto an electronic transmission system linked to constituency, county and national tallying centres that finally disseminated and updated results countrywide.

The success of the Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System network enhanced the credibility of the electoral system by eliminating malpractices at the most critical point of entry into the IEBC voting system.


This ensured that no “dead” or “absentee” voters accessed the system, and indeed, cut off voters and agents who were accustomed to rigging elections through multiple voting. Even where the electronic identification system failed to clear a voter, the IEBC had put in place a slower but efficient alphanumeric system for confirming that the affected voters were registered to vote.

The other major reform that contributed to widely accepted results was the management of the elections at polling stations.

The distribution of voters into streams of 700 voters each made it easier and manageable, enabling the voters to cast their votes and leave the polling areas in a much shorter time than in previous elections.

It also enabled the presiding and returning officers to process and transmit the votes more rapidly and efficiently.

The IEBC system passed the generally accepted principles of a good electoral system.


It enhanced electoral democracy by ensuring all voters had exercised their power to freely elect their preferred candidates.

The system also satisfied the principle of transparency and accountability. Moreover, the IEBC reinforced the security of its ICT system to prevent hacking of its database and results transmission system.

Chief executive Ezra Chiloba dismissed Nasa’s claim that the system was hacked, saying those that attempted to access it failed.

Now, IEBC needs to focus on the challenges that remain to reinforce the integrity and efficiency.


Kenya is an accomplished technology innovator, not just in Africa but also globally. A majority of Kenyans, young and old, are technologically savvy.

The challenge is to develop a fully integrated electronic voting system  to eliminate the manual process—from voter identification to the ballot box to transmission and tallying.

A challenge fund for innovators and ethical hackers (there are good hackers!) would set Kenya on the road to another world-class innovation.

Mr Warutere is a director of Mashariki Communications Ltd, [email protected] He was an election observer accredited to the East African Centre for Law and Justice