simplifying the electoral process in Kenya

Last night when i couldn’t sleep and reading wasn’t helping, it occurred to me we have a problem with the conduct of elections and the type of people employed to do the work. First I admit here that the process has improved but it can be better.

To address the efficiency of the voting process, we must first look at the political players who benefit from an inefficient system.

Next we look at the people who manage this process. The voting process is controlled by a team of commissioners appointed by the president. They have a secretariat with a CEO and other staff I guess who are involved in the elections. The commissioners enjoy security of tenure, are paid huge salaries and it does seem to me, do very little in terms of simplifying the voting process. Our elections get more expensive every election cycle instead of cheaper, smoother and more transparent. So what to do?

First, make the commissioner position a volunteer position. They shouldn’t expect any pay. Add a condition that should they botch the elections, they will forfeit their freedom and property. But if they should improve the voting process, they will be rewarded handsomely or beautifully whichever you identify with.

Do away with the lawyers. Damn it. They have demonstrated they can’t do arithmetic. They have been at the centre of the election disputes, over numbers, we have had in the last three cycles and it seems the country hasn’t learnt from it.

It should be a requirement that whoever wants to be nominated as a volunteer in the election body must demonstrate how they intend to ensure the vote counting and tallying is both efficient and open to scrutiny. I have ideas on this but that’s for later. The voting process should be treated as a project with a start and end date. The risks identified and classed. Mitigation measures agreed, roles allocated, budgets agreed on and whatever processes required to execute the project made available. A move to a paperless system should be considered.

I had said I would deal with the political players first but look at us. I don’t know about other countries, but I think there is a general luck of trust that each of us will follow the maxim of one man one vote and to cure this, political parties and candidates employ vast numbers of observers to ensure there is no shady dealings going on. The question is how do we address the conflict between private and public morality?

The other question that presents itself is how to reduce the stakes in the political game. As it is, the high stakes means winning by any means has become the mantra. I am not naive to the fact that being a legislator offers many goods that so many would die for. All around, politicians seems to outlive everyone else. They don’t ever die. They have access to government contracts- and in a world where the richest people or organizations are those that do business with the government, then the stakes can not be any lower. A time must come when this madness will get to its apex and the only way out is down, but we don’t have much time so interventions are needed now.

It occurred to me quite recently that the requirements for political office are so low compared to any other office. You apply for a job in almost any field and they want millions of years in experience, your achievements, bonafides and all. But when it comes to politics, the bare minimum which shockingly, this class of clowns donโ€™t have. Take the case of the current governor for Nairobi. When asked to produce his certificates, he went to court as if the courts can cure such a deficiency!

But all this is wishful thinking. A man can dream.


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

12 thoughts on “simplifying the electoral process in Kenya

  1. Well, here in the United States we…

    uh, never mind.


    • makagutu says:

      In the US, you redistrict to disenfranchise voters. How very democratic of you!


      • Yeah, among many other things. And we now have a party full of people claiming any loss they suffer is a stolen election, and working hard to be positioned to do an actual steal in the future.

        Democracy has always been messy, but it appears to be in a lot of people’s interests to make it even messier.


        • makagutu says:

          The other day I was reading an article on how the republicans can steal the next election. The states decides who get the electoral college votes so that it doesn’t matter who wins the popular vote.
          I think with inequalities; social and economic, the democratic promise is no longer sustainable.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Democracy is only sustainable if most of the people in the society see it as being in their interest. I dearly hope we haven’t lost that in my country, or that any nullification of the popular vote would lead to a constitutional amendment. But you could be right.


  2. Barry says:

    I’m uneasy about automated counting processes. Aotearoa New Zealand has kept to manual counting of votes to ensure the process being open to scrutiny at all stages. I’e been involved in the counting process in two election in the past. Counting is done twice: a preliminary count on polling day, where the votes are counted at each voting place; the official count takes place at each electorate headquarters declared at the end of 20 days. There’s a easy to read description of election integrity at

    As for who should be qualified for political office, I think the question itself provides the answer. There shouldn’t be such a thing as a political office. Those standing for election are competing to represent their constituents. They are political representatives, therefore their only qualification should be that the constituency has chosen them. End of story. Perhaps its the voters who need better training in what representation means.

    I am not naive to the fact that being a legislator offers many goods that so many would die for.” Therein lies a huge problem. Transparent systems should be in place to ensure that it does not and can not happen. Not only must the process be transparent, but even more importantly, the process must be seen to be transparent.

    They have access to government contracts.” What??? No family and not even friends of friends of politicians should have such access. Again, not only should there be no conflict of interest, it should be seen that there are no conflicts of interest. That latter is important if politicians are to have the trust of their constituents.

    Last, and somewhat flippantly, in Aotearoa we don’t have “one man one vote”, we have “one person two votes” ๐Ÿ™‚


    • makagutu says:

      Last, and somewhat flippantly, in Aotearoa we donโ€™t have โ€œone man one voteโ€, we have โ€œone person two votesโ€

      So you don’t know anything about ballot stuffing?
      Barry, here, politicians and their families not only have access to, but can sell these contracts to their cronies. It is a crazy world out here. Why do you think people kill for these positions?
      Indeed, the process must not only be transparent but must be perceived to be transparent. In fact, that was the ruling in the last election petition. That the election process must be transparent through and through.


      • Barry says:

        I had to look up “ballot stuffing”. That’s how rare it is here. The system has crosschecks to make it very difficult.

        I guess living in the least corrupt nation gives us a different perspective. During the election cycle even a politician buying a drink for a mate is viewed suspiciously: is merely buying a drink for a friend or is his intention to buy a vote from his friend. The former would be ok, the latter not.

        There was a case a few years ago when a politician spoke on behalf of an immigrant to allow him to stay in NZ. A short time later the immigrant was seen doing repairs to the politician’s home. Then it was discovered that the immigrant was doing the work for no payment. He was doing the work to express his gratitude to the politician. This was clearly a conflict of interest. It was possible that the politician sought payment for sponsoring the immigrant by means of free labour, or the other possibility was the immigrant offered free labour if the politician sponsored him. Either way it was a form of bribery. Whether or not it truly was a gesture of gratitude there was a possibility of corruption. The politician lost his job.

        Liked by 1 person

        • makagutu says:

          My friend Barry, you surprise me all the time.
          If I were to list all the good things our politicians are engaged in during the election season and after, bowing your head in shame will not be enough.


  3. rautakyy says:

    I read about your elections. They reached news headlines here in Finland. I was most displeased. Not at the results, but at the level of journalism. Because I never really learned who won. The names and their personal relationships were discussed, but not their policies.The parties were presented in a perspective of some former colonialists, as if they were just some tribal clans connected by family rather than ideology. The entire process was described rather confusing and with a bit of a patronizing gist. I was frustrated, because it seemed like our reporters had travelled all the way there to transmit british news about your elections.


    • makagutu says:

      Well, this reflects the state of journalism.
      There were 4 candidates for the presidency: Raila, Ruto, Wajakoya and I can’t remember the 4th.
      As to policies or how they intend to implement them; most if not all of them are thin on that.
      The results were contested after they were announced and we expect the supreme court to make a final determination of the validity of the presidential results today.


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