BOMET AND SOTIK CONSTITUENCIES BY-ELECTIONS
IED set out to monitor and observe the two by-elections in Bomet and Sotik Constituencies, in the south of the Rift Valley Province in Kenya. The by-elections were occasioned by the death of two Members of Parliament: the late Honourable Lorna Laboso, MP for Sotik Constituency and Assistant Minister in the Office of the President; and the late Honourable Kipkalya Kones, MP for Bomet Constituency and Minister for Roads. The MPs died on 10th June 2008 in a plane crash.
During the by-elections, IED set up and utilized a Parallel Votes (Results) Tabulation (PVT) Centre at IED offices in Nairobi. This approach was informed by the experience and lessons learnt during the 2007 general elections particularly with regard to the difficulties in getting authentic alternative results. The PVT system used a short code to receive elections results as announced and declared at the polling stations. The Poll Watchers sent the results through a text message to IED’s PVT centre for analysis and posting to the IED website. By mid night of 25th September 2008, we had received results from all the 301 polling stations in Bomet and Sotik Constituencies. By morning of 26th September 2008, the final tallied results had been announced and the winning candidates declared in both Bomet and Sotik Constituencies.
The following are the key findings based on the analysis of our observations.
Over half (56%) of the polling stations in Sotik and Bomet Constituencies had some party agents absent when voting commenced at 6.00 am. Some of the party agents did not show up completely during the entire voting and counting processes while some arrived very late mostly between 6.30 am and 10.00 am.
Elections officials performed far much better than party agents in the by-elections in terms of timeliness, efficiency and effectiveness in discharging their roles.
In terms of gender composition of election officials, there was evidence of skewed recruitment in favour of males in all the three positions of Presiding Officers (PO), Deputy Presiding Officers (DPO) and Clerks. Out of the 301 Presiding Officers who served in the by-elections, only 42 were females. This means that only 14% of Presiding Officers were females compared to 86% who were males.
TWO REPEAT ELECTIONS IN WAJIR NORTH AND KILGORIS CONSTITUENCIES AND THREE BY-ELECTIONS IN AINAMOI, EMUHAYA AND EMBAKASI CONSTITUENCIES
IED has now developed a tradition and practice in observing elections, which involves recruitment, training and deployment of Poll Watchers to all polling stations/streams. With respect to the two repeat and three by-elections, we recruited, trained, and deployed 828 Poll Watchers in most polling stations in the five Constituencies. The training workshops for the recruited Poll Watchers took place concurrently in all the five Constituencies between 8th and 10th June 2008.
Key issues observed during the by-election
Voter bribery, inducement, and undue influence continue to feature in our electoral process. From our observation report, our Poll Watchers witnessed 5% cases of voter bribery in the five constituencies on polling day.
44% of the polling station had voters with disability. Some of the voters with disability voted themselves while others sought assistance from a relative or a companion who took an oath of secrecy. The election officials and party agents assisted others
Transportation of voters to the polling stations was rampant especially in Wajir North Constituency. It was also observed in Kilgoris Constituency. This was also noted in Soweto in Embakasi Constituency where voters were transported to Soweto Social Hall using a white pickup at around midday on elections day.
The media has a significant role to play in the electoral process. During the repeat and by-elections, we observed a greater sense of responsibility demonstrated by the media. This was evident in the relatively impartial coverage of all candidates. The media also focused more on issues and avoided sensational and inciteful reporting.