Dead vot­ers and other ways to steal elec­tions

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS -

Elec­tions in Kenya are a fraught busi­ness, with polls be­set with claims of rig­ging and in­tim­i­da­tion, some sub­tle, some not, and this year’s vote on Au­gust 8 is no dif­fer­ent. A decade after a dis­puted elec­tion led to the coun­try’s worst elec­toral vi­o­lence with over 1,100 killed, fear of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties is grow­ing. “In Kenya, peo­ple say the dead come back to vote, and then re­turn to their graves,” said Ge­orge Mo­rara, chair­man of the Kenyan Na­tional Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (KNCHR). The fraud­u­lent in­clu­sion of the de­ceased on the vot­ers’ reg­is­ter is just one way to cheat your way to vic­tory in Kenya.

Chase, scare, buy

Re­cent months’ vi­o­lence which has dis­placed cit­i­zens in Laikipia and Baringo coun­ties has wor­ried ob­servers who fear os­ten­si­ble ban­ditry and land strug­gles as mask­ing ef­forts to push peo­ple from their place of reg­is­tra­tion. Ad­vo­cacy group Hu­man Rights Watch in early July doc­u­mented in­ci­dents of in­tim­i­da­tion in the Naivasha re­gion, a hotspot of vi­o­lence in 2007-08. An­other strat­egy is to “rent” vot­ers’ iden­tity cards dur­ing elec­tions, es­sen­tially pay­ing some­one not to turn out. “When you have some­one’s ID, this is the guar­an­tee he will not be able to vote,” said Mo­rara, adding that some in Kenya will sell their ID and there­fore their vote for 1,000 shillings ($1).

Ger­ry­man­der­ing

Kenya’s elec­toral law al­lows vot­ers to choose where they reg­is­ter, open­ing up the pos­si­bil­ity of ma­nip­u­lat­ing the polls by bussing in sup­port­ers to stack the odds in a par­tic­u­lar con­stituency. “In some con­stituen­cies, we no­tice that the reg­is­tra­tion lev­els are higher than nor­mal,” said Kelly Lusuli of the Kenya Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (KHRC). “We fear that some are pay­ing oth­ers to come and reg­is­ter in a con­stituency in which they don’t live so as to fa­vor a can­di­date.”

Dodgy tech­nol­ogy

In 2013, Kenya in­tro­duced an elec­tronic sys­tem that in­cluded bio­met­ric voter reg­is­tra­tion in­tended to en­sure only those reg­is­tered could vote. It also pro­vided for the elec­tronic trans­mis­sion of re­sults from polling sta­tions across the coun­try to the na­tional tally cen­ter in the cap­i­tal, re­duc­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for tam­per­ing with re­sult sheets en route. But tech­nol­ogy is nei­ther fool-proof nor tam­per-re­sis­tant with hackers able to mod­ify re­sults or ren­der the en­tire sys­tem un­us­able. —AFP

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