Polling day in Kenya’s election is next Monday but by the looks of things it could also run into Tuesday as well. The mock elections held yesterday to test the voting system did not bode well regarding the prospects for avoiding chaos next week.
VOTING TAKES TOO LONG
Trial run elections took place in 1,450 wards across the country on Sunday. The main problem arose because voters and polling staff took so long to complete and process the six different ballot papers that will confront the electorate come the big day.
The Daily Nation claimed that most voters took up to five minutes to cast their vote. The Standard calculated the time taken as six to eight minutes for each voter to complete the process.
The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has, as a result, ‘taken on more officers to help voters cast their ballots correctly’. That’s ominous, says the Kenya Forum!
TOO MANY BOXES, TOO MANY COLOURS
Other problems encountered were voters being unsure as to which of the six boxes to drop their completed ballot papers into, and it is claimed, male voters finding it difficult to identify the colour of the ballot boxes to match the colour of the ballot paper.
ID CARD NEEDED IF YOU WANT TO VOTE
A potentially disastrous problem that was also highlighted by the mock process was that many voters did not realise that even though they were registered through the Electronic Voter Identification Device, they still had to produce their identity cards in order to vote.
So be warned, you will have to carry your ID card in order to vote next week.
IEBC ASKED FOR SEPARATE ELECTIONS
IEBC Chairman Isaak Hassan told reporters that the Commission had asked that the elections be held on different days, i.e., national elections on one day, local elections on another, but the idea had been rejected by the Committee of Experts (CoE).
Many other countries hold different types of elections on separate days. The Kenya Forum has always thought that this would have been a good idea in Kenya. We fear, not for the first time that the CoE were not quite as expert as they claimed to be.
The Kenya Forum has also come across several voters who are not aware that election will go into a second round if one of the presidential candidates does not get 50%+1 of the vote in the first ballot.
There will almost certainly be long queues at the polling stations on Monday. Many voters will turn up thinking they are registered to vote when they are not. Others will arrive expecting to be able to vote without a registration card. Trying to vote in six different elections will also lead to many spoilt ballot papers. Then there’s the question of computer failure and power cuts hampering the smooth running of the election. It is recipe for chaos and with chaos will come allegations of fraud.
Be patient Kenyans. Monday could be tough.