Kenyans Turn Out in Droves for Presidential Election


Millions of Kenyan citizens flocked to election centers March 4 to decide the outcome of that country’s presidential election.

Results were expected to be announced within several days, with Kenyan voting officials reported that at least 70 percent of registered voters had cast their ballots by closing time at 5 p.m. on Mar. 4.

“The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was conducting the first general elections under the new constitution in 47 counties, 290 constituencies and 1450 county assembly wards,” the commission said in a statement. “There were six elective positions namely the president, governor, senator, county woman representative; Member of Parliament and county assembly ward representative.”

Top remaining contenders for the presidency included: Uhuru Kenyatta, who had a preliminary lead despite an indictment by the International Criminal Court for violence stemming from the 2007 election; the nation’s current Prime Minister Raila Odinga; and six others.

Kenyatta is a direct descendent of the political legacy solidified by his father, Jomo Kenyatta, who was elected as the country’s first president in 1964.

The country became independent of the United Kingdom in December of 1963, according to information published by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs.

Though there is no American Embassy in the nation, the United States has crafted a strong relationship with the country, helping adapt a democratic electoral process for Kenya’s government.

A streamlined voter registration process, which took place between Nov. 19 and Dec. 18 registered more than 14 million Kenyans. Voters had to arrive in person at one of the 25,000 registration locations across the country.

The most recent election took place relatively peacefully, a stark contrast to the tensions surrounding the 2007 election.

According to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), disputes over the true victor in 2007 led to the deaths of almost 1,500 people, with another 300,000 displaced by the violence. At the time, the process was so marred by corruption, that election registers “included nearly 1.2 million deceased individuals.”

“The voter registration process this time was different from before. It was a straightforward process, less cumbersome and gave me, somewhat, some hope that we are going somewhere with our election technology,” James Gitau, 45, of Nairobi, told the IFES. “The use of fingerprint technology and taking the photos while registering was great and better than the previous process where it was more manual.”

“Verification of the voter details was the best and easiest via SMS and a short reply thereafter,” he added. “Previously, there was queuing for hours for one’s name to be located in this manual, which often was one copy and then – if correct – details would be cancelled/ticked depending on the understanding of the officer conducting the process. The SMS/Internet was more secure and safe.” 

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Kenyans Turn Out in Droves for Presidential Election

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