Staggering Number of Spoilt Votes Might Decide The 2013 Kenya Presidential Elections
The Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in Kenya has announced that it will consider the number of spoilt votes in the final tally that will determine who clinches the top seat in the just concluded elections.
So far, IEBC officials have declared more than 600,000 votes spoilt. A number that is three times more than what the third presidential candidate, Mr. Musalia Mudavadi has so far garnered.
Mr. Omar Hassan, the Chairman of the electoral body in Kenya, told Journalists who sought to know the probable cause of the staggering number of spoilt votes that the Commission had not yet established the actual cause of the spoilt votes but tentative investigations pointed to a mix-up of the colors on the ballot boxes and the ones on the ballot papers by the voters.
Explained, this means that a vote for example of a presidential candidate that was placed in a ballot box containing ballot papers for a governor is considered spoilt. Consulted about this, Legal expert Ekuru Aukot, who helped draft the 2010 Kenya Constitution was quick to point out that a vote as such shouldn't be considered as a spoilt vote.
In fact, after this 2013 Kenya Presidential elections, the country would need to reconsider its definition of 'spoilt votes' to avoid a repeat of what have been seen in this years general elections.
In Kenya, votes are also considered to be spoilt if they were not stamped by an IEBC official or if the voter placed more than one mark along two different candidates checkboxes.
This year's elections also offered a challenge to most voters due to the high number of positions being contested for. The positions which ranged from County Representatives, to women representatives, MPs, gubernatorial seat, senators and the president were agreed for in the Kenya 2010 revised constitution.
Observers in the 2013 elections have blamed poor civic education for the staggering number of spoilt votes. Speaking to journalists, Benjamin Grazda, an observer with the group Sisi Ni Amani Kenya, said that the IEBC did not carry out sufficient voter education, mores in the rural areas where a majority of the spoilt votes cases have been witnessed.
It waits to be seen how the spoilt votes will affect the final tally of the presidential results, which so far has been dominated by Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta who has been indicted by the International Criminal court for crimes against humanity.
Experts however point out that the number of spoilt votes might deny Kenyans a winner in the first round of the elections, calling for a run-off between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. A political scientist from the University of Nairobi has said that a runoff is almost inevitable.
“I don’t want to say that it will be the only factor but if it hits over 5 per cent, definitely it will be a major factor,” said Oloo.
What Kenyans are likely to be asking themselves at this precise moment is 'what would be the political and socio-economic effects of a runoff to the country?'
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