Over the next two weeks it will be up to Kenya’s Supreme Court, the highest legal authourity in the land, to decide whether the voting figures published by the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declaring Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the presidential election held on August 8th with a substantial lead of over 1.4 million votes more than Mr Odinga, add up. What is provable now, however, is that one of the main contentions made by Nasa does not stand up to scrutiny.
Raila Odinga’s National Super Alliance (Nasa) delivered their petition to Kenya’s Supreme Court on Friday evening calling on the Court to nullify the official result of the election, which in Mr Odinga’s words, “was so badly conducted and marred with such glaring irregularities that it does not matter who won, or who was declared the winner thereof”.
TOTAL VOTES FOR PRESIDENT, GOVERNOR AND MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY DIFFER
One of the areas of contention cited by Nasa and highlighted by several news reports and columnists in the press, is the apparent discrepancy between the number of electors casting their vote in the presidential election compared to the number of votes cast for Governors and Members of the National Assembly.
Nasa have pointed to the fact that votes cast in the presidential election amounted to 15,588,038, compared to 15,098,646 in the elections for governor in the 47 counties, and 15,008,818 in the elections for Members of the Assembly. The presidential candidates therefore received 482,202 more votes than gubernatorial candidates and 567,517 votes more than candidates standing for the National Assembly. This seeming discrepancy, Nasa suggest, is part of the proof that the elections were rigged. The provable truth is directly contrary to this assertion.
THE BIGGER THE OFFICE THE BIGGER THE VOTE
In democratic elections throughout the world, where more than one election is taking place on the same day, there is a constant disparity between the votes cast for the higher offices of state compared with those further down the political pecking order, even though voters are in a position to cast their votes for more than one office at the same time.
By way of example, in several states voters in the US Presidential elections of November 2016 were also able to vote in their local Senatorial elections. Set out in the table below are the results of such voting in the nine most marginal Senatorial elections (where the margin of victory was less than 10% of the total votes cast) comparing the number of votes cast for Senator compared to the total of votes cast for the presidential candidates that included Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.
In close, or ‘marginal’ elections one would normally expect the turnout to be higher than an election where the result is more of a foregone conclusion but as can be seen from the results above, even this factor did not result in the Senatorial votes in these states matching the total number of votes cast for the presidential candidates.
The difference between the total votes for president in Kenya’s recent election and the total votes for the candidates for governorr, the latter being 489,392 lower than the former, equates to an average of just over 10,400 fewer votes per County for gubernatorial candidates compared to those for presidential candidates, an entirely likely result given the experience throughout the democratic world.
Raila Odinga and his Nasa colleagues may yet persuade the Supreme Court that Kenya’s recent presidential election result displayed irregularities but basing the argument on the difference between the presidential vote and those for Governor and Members of the Assembly won’t hold water.