Preliminary results from Kenya’s presidential election showed a tight race between the two main candidates vying to replace President Uhuru Kenyatta, with citizens praying an announcement of a winner would not unleash violence as in years past.
Anxious wait for results
Official results are yet to be announced, but the winning candidate must get 50% plus one of the total votes. Counting and tallying of votes is still ongoing.
Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has to declare results from 290 constituencies. Due to a laborious process, there aren’t many results available yet from the commission.
Once votes are counted, returning officers must take a photo of the final tally sheet and send the image to both the constituency and national tallying centers.
But the media, political parties and civil society groups continue to compile their tallies using results declared at the more than 40,000 polling stations.
The final result from the IEBC is expected in days, but the commission has up to a week to declare the official results.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati said in an update that the tallying was being done at three levels namely polling centers, constituencies and at the national stage.
At the national tallying center, he said they are verifying transmitted images of the forms used in capturing results.
The forms are being transmitted from polling centers.
The IEBC chairman noted that the commission is heavily relying on technology in the results transmission system, which had been configured to send the results once.
“As a commission, we call for patience among Kenyans as we undertake this rigorous exercise. We endeavor to conclude this exercise as soon as possible,” said Chebukati, adding constitutionally the commission has seven days to announce the results.
Early provisional results from the commission indicated that the leading presidential candidates, veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto were neck-to-neck.
The election commission, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), posted images showing results forms for more than 99 percent of the 46,663 polling stations.
The commission is only posting pictures, not numbers. Only two out of 290 constituency-level results are available on the commission’s website. The constituency result forms have to be tallied at the site and then physically taken to the national tallying centre in the capital, Nairobi, and verified before the commission issues official results.
The final result from the IEBC is expected in days, although legally, it has up to a week.
Turnout was low for Kenya on Tuesday, when voters also chose legislative and local authority representatives.
The commission said it believed that about 60% of the 22.1 million registered voters cast ballots. Turnout was nearly 80% in the last election in 2017.
Not appearing in official figures on turnout are the millions of Kenyans who chose not to register to vote; the commission had hoped to sign up 6 million but got less than half of that.
Several factors were blamed for the disappointing turnout including drought in the north, which has forced more than 4 million Kenyans to depend on food aid, and voter frustration with the government’s failure to tackle economic problems such as rising food and fuel prices.