Kenya’s election in photos, part one
It is not often that one has the opportunity to witness history being made. With international attention focused on Kenya’s March 4 elections, we welcomed the chance to form part of the election observation team.
The first election under Kenya’s new consitution, this vote posed myriad logistical challenges. At this distribution center in western Kenya, where S observed the elections, election officials had organized the materials before delivering them to all the polling centers. Note the yellow tanks of gas that would be used to power lamps – the vote count would go late into the night in many rural places that have no electricity.
After conducting biometric voter registration, the electoral commission equipped polling centers with a computerized database of voters registered in each location. As a backup, each polling center also had a hard copy manual of all registered voters for that location that included the ID numbers and pictures of the voters. To be considered valid, each ballot had to bear the insignia of the electoral commission, painstakingly rubber-stamped by the polling clerks.
To verify their identity, voters were required to bring either their national ID cards or their passports.
Last minute preparations in Migori, western Kenya. To help avoid confusion on election day, the electoral commission put up signs denoting each of the more than 33,000 polling centers.
In 2003, current president Mwai Kibaki introduced free primary education; new schools were built all over Kenya. On election day, these schools served as polling centers.
As a result of the insecurity in northern Kenya, where D observed the elections, many people own guns, which they take everywhere – even to the polling centers.
Muslims make up about ten percent of the population in Kenya. At this madrasa, which functioned as a polling center in Marsabit, women and men had to queue separately.
Many voters and election officials were happy to see international observers, especially in places as far flung as Marsabit.
The polling clerks and presiding officer making final arrangements before opening this polling center. The presiding officer is writing down the tag numbers from the seals on the ballot boxes as a safeguard against tampering. Voting was supposed to start at 6am – half an hour before sunrise.
People started queueing to vote at 4am and earlier; many waited 4-5 hours to cast their ballots…some waited a lot longer.
Ultimately, 12.3 million Kenyans cast their votes on March 4, more than 85% of the country’s registered voters.