The many election petitions in the courts are of immense interest to the public. In the event that one succeeds, with all avenues for appeal exhausted, voters head back to the ballot for a by-election.
The Constitution gives aggrieved poll losers 28 days after declaration of results for parliamentary and county elections to file their petitions. And the ‘Bench Book on Electoral Disputes Resolution’ — a Judiciary guide on petitions — directs that election appeals be heard and determined within six months.
The latest Judiciary statistics indicate that out of 388 petitions arising from the August 8, 2017 General Election, about 180 are awaiting determination.
Going by the intricacies of the petitions and delaying tactics usually employed by the parties involved, the judicial officers have done a commendable job. However, they are past the six-month deadline.
The reason for the regulations was to stop the petitions from dragging on endlessly, sometimes for an entire electoral term, making a farce of the judicial process.
Delays in determining poll petitions keep a leader whose victory has been challenged on tenterhooks, not knowing whether it will be nullified. This, certainly, is a major distraction as they cannot concentrate on their work. The onus is, therefore, on the judicial officers to clear the remaining cases in the shortest time possible.