Election Watch : Report 5

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ElectionWatch Report #5

WHY WE VOTE: HOPES & FEARS IN KENYA'S 2017 GENERAL ELECTION

InformAction July 2017

with Kura Yangu, Sauti Yangu

Introduction

The stakes are high in Kenya’s 2017 General Election, with the two main presidential candidates running neck and neck, and the shocking killing of a key election official – managing the information technology systems - just days before the vote[1].

There is significant public apprehension, with fears that voting, counting and announcing of results could at any stage trigger frustration and anger should the process fail, or be perceived to fail.  Fears relate to unresolved issues around the Register of Voters, and lack of clear back-up mechanisms for the electronic results transmission system. Kenyans will go to vote in an electoral environment tainted by allegations of rigging, voter bribery, ethnic mobilization, intimidation, fake news and deep regional divisions.  There are also fears over the use of force and censorship. The opposition has leaked details of security plans - alleging the government is ready to use the military to rig the elections and suppress protests – as well as jittery public anticipation of an internet shut-down.

The delayed release of a final, certified election register by the IEBC, on June 27th[2], has done nothing to quell these uncertainties. In fact, attention in a June audit to the over one million dead voters found in the Register, seems to be haunting the public. Many believe the names of the dead voters will be used for ballot box stuffing.

In this last pre-election edition, IFA examines the concerns around the credibility of the Register, and records the hopes and fears of the public as they approach the vote.

Key Findings

- Low levels of public trust over the state of the Register and the credibility of election processes.

- Widespread disbelief that the IEBC has effectively cleaned the Register.

- A random sample of dead voters selected by IFA showed 96.6% remained in the Register after it being certified as final.

- Determination by Kenyans to exercise their right to vote, alongside the fear that issues with registration and technology failure will prevent them from doing so.

Methodology

InformAction is accredited with media and election observer status. It has been systematically monitoring the election cycle for the August 8 2017 General Election since May 2016.

IFA utilizes eight established field teams embedded in Isiolo (Northern Kenya); Kakamega (Western); Kericho (South Rift); Kisii (Western Nyanza), Kisumu (Nyanza), Maralal (Northern Kenya); Mombasa (Coast Region); and, Nyeri (Central). It also does spot checks in Nairobi. The teams use a combination of systematic and spot-checking observations, including video documentation and photography.

Observers use qualitative methods based on interviews, observations and document analysis, using stratified and random sampling, monitoring the experiences and actions of voters, election officials and security personnel, as well as any other actors or participants involved in the electoral process, during the pre-election, election and post-election periods. During monitoring, teams use social media internally to coordinate movements and relay and compare findings. Legal advice and research services are available to the observers at all times. The field teams also benefit from their extensive local knowledge and networks in the counties (see www.informAction.tv)

InformAction observers witness and document the application of constitutional standards and election regulations.

The filming, participation and consultation of individuals in this report was done with their full cooperation and consent. To prevent unauthorised access, maintain responsible data usage, and ensure the correct use of information, InformAction has obscured or removed images of documents relating to personal identification details.

Background

When KPMG released its’ report on the audit of the Register of Voters[3], it drew attention to over a million dead voters in the current list of registered voters. KPMG had estimated that there could be up to 1,037,260 dead voters remaining in the Register.

The Dead Vote

Given that the issue of dead voters has remained unaddressed for the past decade, this immediately raised questions about how genuine the commitment to improving electoral processes has been over the last decade. The existence of dead voters is just one of several long-standing problems.  In 2007-2008, after widespread post-election violence, the Kenya government commissioned a number of independent reviews and legal initiatives in the hope of preventing similar conflict in the future.  The Independent Review Commission (IREC) – later known as the Kriegler Report – was at the time set up to investigate the credibility of the 2007 election process, including the use and abuse of the Register.

There were a number of findings in the Kriegler Report, relating to its analysis of the Register of Voters in the 2007 election. It found that the population of registered voters (measured by the population aged 18 years and above) was low at 71 percent. It also noted that women, youth and marginalized communities were significantly under-represented as registered voters. Most notably, however, it estimated that the Register was bloated by as many as 1.2 million dead voters. [4]

The report also criticized the process through which dead voters were removed from the Register:

….the deletion of names of deceased voters from the register is ineffective: the Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that 1,733,000 persons have died since 1997 but the (electoral body) has been able to eliminate the names of only 513,000 deceased persons from the register.[5]

The process continues to be ineffective. When auditing the Register, KPMG received only 53 percent of the Civil Registration Bureau’s dataset of registered deaths. Moreover, the Civil Registration Bureau database is itself incomplete. It contains only 41 percent of all estimated deaths of Kenyans, aged 18 and over, between the period 2012 and 2016.[6].

The IEBC nevertheless declared with confidence that the issue of the dead voters had been satisfactorily dealt with, and 88,602 confirmed dead voters had been purged from the list.[7]  According to these figures, there could still be approximately 948,658 dead voters in the Register.

This creates a number of serious problems:

- Inclusion of dead voters in such high numbers makes it difficult to know with certainty how many registered voters there are.

- It is impossible to calculate reliable turnout rates.

- A bloated register challenges logistics: it is difficult to plan the required number of polling stations; and, the allocation of voters at each polling station is inaccurate.

- Most importantly, the existence of so many dead voters threatens public confidence in the accuracy and verifiability of the Register.

It is no surprise that Kenyans are deeply suspicious about the potential to misuse the records of dead voters, especially if technological safeguards against ballot stuffing fail, as they have in the past.

But the continued presence of the dead is not the only concern. When the IEBC certified the ‘final Register’ on June 27th, Chairman Wafula Chebukati stated:

The certified Register of Voters for the 2017 General Election has a total of 19,611,423 voters. This number includes 4,393 diaspora in 5 countries and 5,528 registered in 118 prisons across the country.”[8]

So how final and accurate is the Register?   There are already at least three different registers in use, including the certified Register June 27th. While it is not possible to say conclusively that the ’Copy Register’ is a different register, the IEBC asserts that if a registered voter cannot be found biometrically, they may be in the Copy Register. This implies it is a different register, and not merely a copy. Also, significantly, IFA field teams have documented and photographed on multiple occasions the use of so-called Green Books, which are a variety of notebooks used as manual backup to the electronic register – see ElectionWatch#2 Voter Registration, and ElectionWatch#3 Gateway to the Ballot Box www.informAction.tv

Registration inflation?

One of the most challenging statistical puzzles in the 2017 Register is the fact that marginalized communities and regions suffering some of the lowest rates of registration appeared in the final Register to have the highest proportion of registered voters. For example, the ‘border community’ of Mandera South constituency, North Eastern Kenya, shows a 144% increase in registration since 2013.

This is in stark contrast with the serious difficulties affecting marginalized communities in getting national identity cards (ID), essential to register as a voter.  During two major pre-election voter registration drives, a significant proportion of the population classified as ‘sub border communities’ was subjected to discriminatory ‘special vetting’ processes. Up to 25% of the population were affected, which ‘resulted in considerable regional and ethnic differences in the rates of voter registration across the country.’ [9]

Furthermore, IEBC registration drives were noted not for their successes, but the failure to meet targets. During the first phase, the IEBC registered only about 1.4 million instead of the stated target of 4.1 million.[10]

Regions and sub border communities affected by ‘special vetting’ include

- Western Region: Busia, Bungoma, Teso, Mt Elgon

- Rift Valley Region: Transzoia, Turkana, Kajiado, Narok, Transmara, West Pokot

- Coast Region: Taita Taveta, Kwale, Lamu, Tana River

- Nyanza Region: Suba, Migori, Kuria

- North Eastern Region: Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Ijara

- Northern Region: Marsabit, Moyale and Isiolo

Nevertheless, the 2017 Register shows that the areas with the highest proportion of registered voters, based on the number of IDs issued between 1997 and 2016, are found in North Eastern, Central and Rift Valley regions.

This calls for further examination. Countrywide, the average rate of registration[11] is 71.1 percent.  Central, North Eastern and Rift Valley regions, however, have average rates of 77.1 percent.[12] The significance in this is that of the ten counties that have the highest rates of registration in terms of the IDs issued, five are considered sub border locations - Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Narok, Tana River.

Section 1

Investigating the Presence of Dead Voters

In May-June 2017, InformAction field teams investigated the presence of dead voters in the Register, prior to audit and certification. The presence of dead voters in the Register had been brought to the attention of the field teams, and details were easily accessible. Each team aimed to identify five such records. The teams submitted details of 29 dead voters in the Register, from Kisii, Kisumu, Kilifi, Mombasa, Nyeri, Isiolo, Garissa and Nairobi, and waited for the Register to be audited and cleaned.

When the final Register of Voters (RoV) had been certified by the IEBC on June 27th, the IFA field teams followed up on the records of dead voters they had previously identified. The findings are tabled below.

Of the 29 dead voters randomly selected by IFA, in eight constituencies, 96.6% remained in the Register after it had been cleaned and certified by IEBC.

More worrying, IFA field staff reported that some of the dead voters had been since transferred to other polling stations. The transfers raise questions about who has access to manipulating data in the Register, given that the transfers had to be done by someone other than the voting dead.

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Section 2

Why do Kenyans Vote?

In May-June 2017, InformAction field teams asked people during regular community screenings and debates[13] if, and why, they intended to vote in the upcoming General Election.

Below is a thematic compilation of the comments from communities in Isiolo (Northern Kenya); Kakamega (Western); Kericho (South Rift); Kisii (Western Nyanza), Kisumu (Nyanza), Maralal (Northern Kenya); Mombasa (Coast Region); and, Nyeri (Central).

During the community discussions, IFA noted endemic disillusionment regarding politicians and government, pronounced in almost all communities and regions. Complaints focused primarily on the soaring levels of corruption and impunity; tribalism and nepotism; crippling cost of living; poor service delivery; and neglectful and arrogant leaders.

However, despite the widespread mistrust and cynicism, emanating from a history of fraudulent and divisive elections in Kenya, the overwhelming majority said they will vote on 8th August.

Field Findings

I WILL VOTE BECAUSE:

Most people vote

“It is not in my heart to vote but I shall because I have registered and it’s a right in law to vote. I have to do what the rest are doing. I am not going to gain anything. We have been voting, but there is no change. Look at our land, it is not developed …We just exist.

Jamila, Gamebela Village, Isiolo County, Northern Kenya

“We are just voting because everybody votes. You cannot just stay in the house while others are voting.”  Resident, Ngari Village, Maralal, Samburu County, Northern Kenya

“I must vote. It is a right and the constitution supports that. So I will vote because I want a leader who will help me, with ideas of helping other people, too.” Rama, Kilifi Stage, Kilifi County, Coast

Constitutional right

“We vote because it’s our right, and also to get someone who will feel our pain. We have not seen a leader who helps us.” Pricilla, Kware Kuu, Isiolo County, Northern Kenya

“I nearly didn’t vote this time. When our grandparents were fighting during the colonial times, we were fighting hunger, poverty and ignorance, now all these things are still affecting the county.  On 8th August I will just vote because it’s my constitutional right, but the truth is, there are a lot of issues in our county: it is as if we are still in the colonial era. That is what made me nearly not vote.” Kimathi, Isiolo County, Isiolo, Wabera Ward, Northern Kenya

“I will vote because it is my right. We are denied some things, but I know that voting is one’s right and I will be voting for the person that I want. It is a weapon; when you don’t have it, how will you vote for the leader that you want?” Nzai, Mombasa County, Coast

I will vote because it is my right according to the constitution.  Akinyi, Gem Siaya County, Nyanza

Change

“We vote because we want change. Good change. God willing I will vote if I get a leader who will bring change. On this earth you use this card to choose the leader you want.” Roba, Isiolo Town, Isiolo County, Northern Kenya

“All women in Kenya need to be informed, and not vote based on political parties but to vote for leaders who will bring change. They should not accept lessos, dancing by the roadside and being given two hundred shillings. Your problems will remain. Let that leader open up a business for you so that you are able to sustain yourself rather than degrading yourself dancing by the road for shillings or a T-shirt. Women should be informed and vote for a leader who can bring change. Sometimes a good leader is in a bad political party. Vote for a leader, not a political party.” Maimuna, Mombasa County, Coast

“I will vote because I want change in Kenya. The economy is low and the cost of living high. We want change so that at least even the poor people can afford something.”   Akinyi, Gem, Siaya County, Nyanza

“I will vote because I need change, especially in our ward. The ward is very expansive with a population of 12,000 people. There is no development in many areas of the ward. No rural electricity has been connected, and that is why we need change. We have no piped water connected in the ward, because the pipes were destroyed when the road was graded. For that we need change! On August 8th we are ready to vote.” Joseph, Cheplangat Ward, Bureti Constituency, Kericho County, Rift Valley

“Each leader who comes says they are going to bring us development, and so if for the past fifty five years there had been development, Kenya would be like America. This time we want change.... there are public offices taken by individuals and we want to rescue those offices. That’s why I will vote.” Mugambi, Wabera Ward, Isiolo North Constituency, Isiolo County, Northern Kenya

“I vote because it important; because it brings change to the citizens. If you don’t vote and a leader that you don’t like wins, you are not in a position to complain.” Mbito, Ganze, Mombasa County, Coast

“On August 8th, we need change. The governor was allocated 100 million for building cereal stores in every ward in Kericho County. However, he cheated us. I am sorry I voted for the Governor, he failed us.” Jackson, Cheplangat Ward, Bureti Constituency, Kericho County, Rift Valley

“I am going to vote so that there can be change in Kenya, so that youth can make bricks, plant trees, cultivate maize, millet and sweet potatoes - then we shall see the change in Kenya.”  Okello, Jera, Gem Constituency, Siaya County, Nyanza

“I vote for change in leadership. Those we elected last time have done nothing… we are told that education is free, but our kids are always chased home for school fees. We are small scale farmers and the dry spell left us with nothing.”  Kiragu, Kirinyaga County, Cemtral

Development

“I will vote because I want a leader who will bring development. Since the County governments were established, I have been pushing that wheelbarrow and I am still doing the same to date. There is no evidence of development. The situation is still the same as we were under the national government.” Resident, Ngari Village, Maralal, Samburu, Northern Kenya

“Let me say that sometimes when we vote, we get good leaders - like Uhuru. He has really helped us because we have electricity in our homes at affordable prices and now our work is easier. Our roads are more accessible and we can get our farm produce to the market with ease and this makes us happy.” Chomba, Kirinyaga County, Central

“I vote so that our country can develop… so that we are not stuck in the same place. If we have a leader who is not performing, we have a chance to replace him. By performance, I mean development and peace.” Lillian, Nyeri County, Central

Good governance

“I want to vote not because I want to see change in the office of the president or governor; I don’t care about that. I want to vote for the MCA (Member of County Assembly). He is the only one who has made me want to vote because he is the person near me. I will not vote for the other seats. They have not helped the area. Our voice is not heard anywhere. The governor is seen during campaigns, he makes promises, but you will not see him. He doesn’t care about roads or hospitals. If you go to the MP, it is disappointing; the situation remains the same. The Woman Representative stays in Nairobi; I don’t see the work of the senator. Better the one I know. I can get (things) from him, the MCA.”  Khalifa, Bulla Pesa, Isiolo County

“For the last five years, what we expected to be done wasn’t done. There is nothing to show. I am eagerly waiting for the election date because I want to vote out the current leadership. It’s us Wanjiku (citizens) who put them there and we want them out. Come August, we will change the male dominance and elect a woman. That’s what is trending now.”  Margaret, Kirinyaga County, Central

“We want a leader who will listen to us and tarmac all roads. In this County, the only tarmacked road is at the town center. We want to be at the same level with other Counties and get tarmac in the rural areas, too.  We want the person we elect to be a person of action and not a person who just talks. We are tired of development promises. This time we want to elect a leader who will think about the common man and not their stomachs”. Kirinya, Isiolo County, Isiolo North Constituency, Northern Kenya

We are waiting for 8th August because we want to elect a leader who is going to help us out of the problems we are facing now. Those that we elected the other time have not helped us in anyway - we want another one.”  Lenaitamany, Ngari Village, Maralal Town, Samburu County

“Mostly we vote so that our own County government can be good… what shocks us when we go to Counties to look for a job is that the County logo is written in Borana. It translates to “we eat alone”, which is challenging if you are from another tribe. That is why we want to vote in a leader who will change that and we get employment to reduce poverty. Isiolo will remain undeveloped if only one tribe gets jobs.” Mwiti, Isiolo North Constituency, Isiolo County, Northern Kenya

“I want to vote so that I will elect leaders with a vision. These past four years we have really suffered. The leaders we shall elect depends on the manifesto they deliver. August 8th will be a very important day for me, that’s why I have to check my vote before that date. Those that did well, we will elect them again, not just remove them.” Kinoti, from Bulla Pesa ward, Isiolo County, Northern Kenya

“I like the Jubilee government for the development done in the area. The party has a good manifesto, it has built roads, provided free education, subsidized Unga and done rural electrification. I belong to Jubilee and I will vote for it come elections.” Rotich, Cheplangat Ward, Bureti Constituency, Kericho County, Rift Valley

“Voting is necessary so we can develop our country. We should not vote because of handouts. We should look at the quality of leadership.” Michael, Nyeri County, Central

“I am a die-hard of Chama Cha Mashinani party (CCM) and I will vote NASA (National Super Alliance). We have hope in Raila that he will deliver. Basic commodities are not available. We have noted that the government of Uhuru and his deputy has betrayed us…we do not see any meaningful development. During the government of “nusu mkate” (coalition government), we got a tarmac road. I have not seen a tarmac road from Jubilee nor anything going on with Jubilee. We are to vote NASA, I am NASA damu (die-hard).” Cheplanga, Bureti Constituency, Kericho County, Rift Valley

“We want to vote so that we can be proud of our nation Kenya, all the way from the presidency to the governor. Because when we have that leadership, we are proud of our country and we will feel free to educate our children; feel free to live and plant a greenbelt. When we have leadership we are happy because we are independent.Elizabeth, Ngari Village, Maralal Town, Samburu County

Peace

“I vote because the bible tells us that we should cast our votes to choose our leaders and I do this because a peaceful country runs well. That is the major reason why I will vote, so that the country is peaceful and I can attend to my businesses without fear… If you look at the current situation, some communities say that they will vote while others are claiming that they have already won. If a disagreement arises, we expect war. If we don’t vote there will be war and division in the whole country and this is what we are avoiding.”  Maina, Tetu in Nyeri County

“I vote to get a better living and also to live in peace. Second, I vote because we reap the benefit of the work we do. Casting of a vote brings peace. What I mean is, if I want to remove someone from office, I cannot do it by word of mouth, but the vote will do it.” Ndiritu, Nyeri County, Central

“I vote so that I can do my business freely and move peacefully in my daily work in a secure country, with a sense of belonging.” Margaret, Kirinyaga County

“I will vote because we have to choose these people - if we don’t do so, they will fight.” Wanjohi, Nyeri County, Central

I WILL NOT VOTE BECAUSE:

Voting brings no benefit

“The reason why we will not vote is when you look at Gambela, it’s very dry, and there is no food, green vegetation or water. We have nothing.…I will not vote. I don’t see the importance of voting because I don’t see how it benefits me. I am just like a stone here and do not need to vote.”  Ann, Isiolo County, Isiolo North Constituency, Gambela Village, Northern Kenya

“Our votes have not benefited us. We have voted several times – they come and pick us in vehicles and once we vote, they board their vehicles and leave. No one recognizes us. We hear there is money for the old people, youth and women given out by the government to be disbursed by the county, but it has not reached Gambela. It’s like a myth. Elections have no meaning to us.”  Resident, Isiolo County, Northern Kenya

“Politicians lure us with Shs.100, Shs.50 and even Shs.10 and after that, you do not see them again and that’s why it pains us. I know it’s my right and if my right is not of benefit to me, why should I vote? I sleep hungry, we don’t get help, there is no security and even the water we had has been cut upstream. The government is not following up.” Galgalo, Isiolo County, Ngaremara Ward, Northern Kenya

No progressive change

"I will not vote. This is because in the last three elections, I have not seen any changes at all. Politicians win and disappear. In 2013 there was cheating and the final results were not credible. I do not see any importance in voting. I will just stay at home and do my work." Omar from Ganze, Isiolo County, Northern Kenya

“I have made a decision that on 8th of August I shall not cast my vote. After participating in three elections, I see there has not been any change. What I saw was chaos, corruption and discrimination and a lot more that I am not happy about. My vote is my right - I have decided to leave it in my cupboard and relax.” Maimuna, Kilifi town, Kilifi County, Coast

 

About InformAction

InformAction is a dynamic social justice organisation that uses film and community discussions to encourage ordinary people to speak out and take action. We operate through mobile field teams – using a car, screen, projector and camera - to show social justice films to thousands of people in the counties every week. Experienced activists lead community discussions on justice and governance, and field videographers record the discussions and local human rights abuses.

In an environment that has become increasingly hostile to civil society and freedom of expression, we use our unique methodology to provide alternative sources of information and leadership. We embrace diversity and equality, and reject all forms of economic, social and political discrimination.

Our Vision: An informed and empowered society that speaks truth to power and demands accountability and social justice.
Our Mission: To inform and empower communities in Kenya in order to catalyse public debate and action for a just and accountable society.

InformAction is part of the Kura Yangu, Sauti Yangu (KYSY) citizen movement. KYSY is spearheaded by a number of like-minded civil society organizations that have come together to proactively support Kenya’s preparations for the 2017 elections, with a view to ensuring that the country minimizes the risks related to dysfunctional electoral systems and practices. KYSY is also committed to promoting political dialogue across the country with the aim of encouraging political consensus and increasing public confidence, making the process and results more credible and legitimate.

Contact:

Waga Odongo, Press and Communications  +254 752 702 320

Winnie Masai, Programmes Coordinator  +254 736 512165

Tirop Kitur, Community Action Leader  +254 725 881533

ElectionWatch updates are designed to inform Kenyans about the state of electoral readiness in the lead-up to the 2017 general election, and prompt public debate and conversation about the credibility of the electoral process. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

[1] www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-election-death-idUSKBN1AG1B5

[3] www.iebc.or.ke/iebcreports/index.php/full-report/

[4] Independent Review Commission (IREC), 17 September 2008. “Report of the Independent Review Commission on the General Elections held in Kenya on 27 December 2007,” pages 8 and 79.

[5] IREC, page 79.

[6] Africa Centre for Open Governance and KPTJ. 2017. “The Register of Voters: Where We Are One Week Ahead of Election Day” and KPMG. 2017. “Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. Independent Audit of the Register of Voters.”

[8] http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/iebc-million-kenyans-are-eligible-to-vote/1064-3990230-eqyihlz/index.html

[9] ElectionWatch#2 Voter Registration

[10] Ibid

[11] Based on the number of issued IDs

[12] IEBC. 2017. “Mass Voter Registration II Baseline Data” and IEBC. 2017. “2017 Register of Voters.

[13] InformAction field teams carry out regular community screenings, using short documentaries made in the regions. It films and archives the local debates that follow. See www.informAction.tv

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