Elections in Kenya: IFES President and CEO Diary

Publication Date: 
3 Mar 2013

IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney traveled to Kenya for the 2013 general elections. Through this feature, he shares his experiences ahead of and on the day of the pivotal poll.  

 

Final thoughts

The Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Uhuru Kenyatta the winner with 50.07 percent (6,173,444) of the total votes cast. He avoided a runoff by 8,400 votes out of 12.3 million votes cast. Raila Odinga placed second with 5,340,546 or 43.3 percent. There were six other candidates on the ballot.

Odinga has announced he will challenge the count in court. One of the major improvements in the Kenya election system is the right to appeal. Last time, people went to bed with one apparent winner and woke up to another winner who was then sworn into office that day. Transparency of the entire process and protection of rights through administrative and legal appeals are major system changes achieved in Kenya as a result.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has released a statement congratulating Kenyans on their patience with the process and virtually endorsing the outcome.

 

March 8, 2013

The Kenyan election process is not over. One of the major structural reforms is the protection of the rights of the losing candidates to appeal the decisions of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). There will be a court challenge, which could result in a recount of the votes. The IFES Kenya team is working with the IEBC to organize records for the court case, the audit or the recount. Record preservation for legal and public review is as important as voting to secure of the trust of the electorate.

Another strength of the Kenyan system is the mandate for timeliness. There is what should be an adequate but limited amount of time to appeal and receive adjudication. In many countries, legal issues about the election are still in courts – months after the inauguration.

There's no perfect election, but the Kenyans reportedly delivered ballots (remember six ballots for different offices) for 1,880 elections over 33,000 polling stations. The current report is that five of the 1,450 wards had incorrect ballots for local offices. By any standard, that is pretty impressive.   

Any organization is only as strong as its people. That maxim doesn't change.  A major strength of IFES is our ability to recruit great talents in our efforts. Ben Chege Ngumi and Moses Owuor are members of the IFES Kenya team who made a difference for their country as well as IFES. Their services will be retested as the details of the voting and counting procedures get reviewed once again during the challenge.

Politicians are the same the world over. When you don't like the numbers because you are behind, then challenge the process. Before the official counting process started on Wednesday, there had been calls for recounts and reruns of the election based on unofficial results. Foreign interference, hacking, and collusion were all charged. I suspect none will be proven. One friend noted "political parties do not CONDUCT elections, they CONTEST them." Very different mindset.

Mombasa election process and results will deservedly have a fair amount of attention. There was a very low level of use of the telephones to report the provisional results from Monday night through Wednesday night. This area was a strong vote for Odinga and its absence from totals gave rise to political speculation. It was also the site of an Election Day incident where the Islamic separatist group Mombasa Republican Council (MRC)  apparently attacked a polling station and nine police officers and an election official were the casualties. By Friday, Mombasa remained very low in reporting returns. There was a suspicion that either the training of the polling officials had been insufficient or there had been a phone problem or a combination of the issues. It is possible that the SIM cards for the phones had either not arrived or when/if they arrived, the polling officials had not been instructed in installation to make the phones operational.

In a discussion with eight Ambassadors to Kenya from assorted countries, when I started to explain the possible omissions about phones, I was entertained with a half hour set of anecdotes about cell phones in Kenya.  

There is a point here: Training on multiple projects, particularly involving new technologies, can't assume every participant absorbed every point. There is usually only so much any of us remember from a class. Technology in particular is not absolutely understood by everyone, particularly older people who have not had technology as part of their experiences. While there wasn't sufficient training, there was a parallel challenge of trying to prepare elections officials for too many "new" items simultaneously: Six ballots and six boxes; new laws; lists with photo identifications; poll books with biometrics; cell phone transmissions with preliminary results; and SIM cards/batteries to keep the systems working.  The sum of tasks might have been too much for any reasonable person to absorb and then share with his/her colleagues.

Everything has to work on Election Day. That is the only day. In real life, everything doesn't work 100 percent -- cell phones, computers, people. There is always a need for margin of errors.

The IEBC had "ready responses" built into their systems to try to supplement emergencies/people not showing up for work on Election Day and lapses in deliveries. They had distribution of materials on Saturday/Sunday before Monday's election so they could handle missed shipments, etc. Still wasn't enough. As James Oswago, the CEO of the IEBC said: "This is a difficult process because you have to get it right the first time."  

Finally, I assume at some point, someone will produce an analysis of the impact of social media on the process in Kenya. This review will help us understand what was on Twitter, Facebook, and whether or not those materials affected the process of civility, legitimacy and peace in Kenya.

 

March 6, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, was a long, intense day for everyone touching Kenya's election. The night before had ended at around midnight with palpable tension in the Media Center. People were complaining about the results, the pace of reporting, the numbers of rejected ballots and the communications style of the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Rumors were starting about server problems and "someone" hacking into the results system.

 

The Kenyan "chattering" class seems to really enjoy conspiracy theories about their politics. There's manipulation with intent apparently underway all over the nation in the days following the election. The problem with most conspiracy theories is that there has to be someone in charge to produce the desired result and it was clear no one was really in charge of either the conspiracy or the needed actions to achieve the desired result.  Random pieces of information or misinformation are gasoline on this fire and repetition of rumors was the order of the day.

 

Communication is central to the maintenance of public and media trust during the counting of the ballots and the presentation of results. Everyone expects instant information and immediate resolution with little patience. Everyone also expects that all communications will be equal to the professionals on television every day. I don't know who is more demanding -- media, civil society, partisans -- but all are voices transmitting to the society at large.

 

Most public institutions and their leaders have little experience or understanding of the demands of the information society. There usually is not the personnel or financial resources or the infrastructure -- technology is only part of the equation -- in place to fill the information vacuums caused by the voting and counting procedures which simply take time.

 

In Kenya, the provisional results system was an effort to bridge the time between the end of the Election Day and the actual official counting process, which meant official review of the polling station reports and physical ballots in Nairobi. Polling station leaders used cell phones to send in results. The results were provisional—not official—and fed the demand for information on Monday and Tuesday. The positive was that for the majority of Kenyans, there was a transparent tabulation process underway which gave the electorate some time to internalize the results. This was in sharp contrast to the 2007 election where Kenyans went to bed with one outcome and woke up the next morning to another outcome and no transparency.  

 

There were a few problems with the provisional results system. It remains unclear if all the polling station officials received adequate training about how and when to register their phones with the system – by Wednesday night, about 6,000 out of 33,000 phones had never been activated. It also wasn't certain if all the phones worked properly due to coverage and technology problems. There were also some issues with the calculations and projections involving rejected ballots. In any event, the Chairman of the IEBC announced Wednesday evening that the provisional process was completed; it was a failure; and the process was moving to the manual review of official documents.

 

How all of this information was communicated to the Kenyan public is critical. Chairman Hassan is the face of the election process. If he was on the podium at the Media Center, it was a major announcement and commanded the nation's attention. Interim announcements by others didn't receive the attention. The positive lesson was the benefit of having a clear leader who was authoritative in a complicated process. The negative lesson was that, unfortunately, the other announcements did not receive as much attention.

 

Earlier in the election cycle, there had been discussions about communications and what was needed to satisfy the demands for information. Like many other decisions, in my opinion, this assignment was insufficiently addressed. Communication is more than a personnel decision and it is more than press releases. There is the budget, infrastructure and discipline to consider. Consensus about timing of announcements rather than schedule became the rule. The IEBC announcement process was never really scheduled and announcements were often postponed due to the IEBC consultation process with all stakeholders. EBC Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan’s first announcement on Wednesday was supposed to be 9 a.m.; then 9:45 a.m.; and then finally 11 a.m. This delay was repeated twice more on Wednesday. There were few routine procedures such as questions by the media are the exception or the rule.  While such irregularity might have been the right decision, it also gave rise to speculation.

 

 

March 5, 2013

 

It is now 8 a.m. at the tally and media center in Bomas. For most of the IFES team, last night ended at about 1 a.m.; a few spent the night here. IFES Chief of Party Mike Yard drove me and IFES Regional Director for Africa Almami Cyllah to the center at 5:30 a.m.

 

We are now in the situation where we are waiting for data from polling stations after a night of wrestling with a variety of technical issues regarding servers, application downloads and mobile phones, which are central to the "instant information" demands of the political process. Some of the "time" issues, particularly the time to deploy and tests systems, are coming home.

 

As the sun rises, the issue becomes the lack of data coming in from polling stations. I think some reports are simply somewhere in the systems that were being "patched" and "refreshed" during the night. Some polling stations will report all six ballot box results at once rather than report the presidential returns first. I suspect some polling officials are simply trying to get a few hours of sleep before they send in their reports.

 

To put things in context, the polling officials collected their materials on Sunday; "camped" at the polling station on Sunday night to open on time at 6 a.m.; had an 18-plus hour day of processing voters and then counting; and Tuesday morning have to report to work for their "day" job. Like most elections, the overwhelming majority of the polling staff are paid for Election Day and perhaps a few days of pre-election training.

 

The intensity of the search for voting results minute by minute fascinates me. Everyone here is looking for instant information and then asking a thousand questions to launch a bunch of "what if" scenarios with an absence of knowledge about electoral procedures. I wish it were all that simple and fast.

 

The Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will have to answer lots of questions in the weeks ahead but will never receive congratulations for the distance traveled and the progress made, particularly in the last few months. The IEBC call center is now calling all the polling officials in the 33,000 stations and asking for them to call in their results. The reported provisional vote is now at 30.26 percent with 3,451,293 votes cast out of an electorate of 14.3 million. It won't surprise me but it may be a jolt to some Kenyans that vote counts and totals may begin to move quickly. We know there is data in the system and with a phone bank working to secure results, numbers should increase. The concern is that numbers move too quickly and the movement alone causes suspicions, particularly by the losing candidates/parties. However, everyone voted on one day -- the Election Day wasn't extended into two days like Ghana and other countries.

 

 

March 4, 2013 Election Day 

 

Election Day started with a news report of a suspected criminal gang killing four senior police officers in Mombasa. As the day progressed, the number of police killed grew to nine. International and local media used the story as the lead in situation reports on the Kenyan election. Although the story is horrific, it does not seem to be election-related. Nonetheless, people were concerned.

 

The IFES team (Regional Director Almami Cyllah, Deputy Regional Director Abigail Wilson, Program Officer Elliot Mitchell, Consultant Charles Latham and our diver Francis) had already determined to visit polling stations in and around the Great Rift Valley outside Nairobi. The Great Rift Valley had displaced populations from the last Kenyan election (government-resettled people who had witnessed violence and were afraid to continue to live in their communities). Other areas had seen confrontations in the past. These places were far enough from Nairobi to also test the distribution system for election materials.

 

IFES, technically, does not observe elections because our mission and work is usually with the election management body and the election process. Under the Declaration of Principles for International

 

Election Observation (IFES was a signatory), an IFES observation mission in Kenya where we have been active with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) would be the equivalent of "grading our own homework." In partnership with the IEBC, we will conduct a post-election review and look at the metrics of election procedures for lessons learned in the next few days – if Kenya has a second round in six weeks or election adjudication cases. This means that IFES will not be submitting an official report or public statement based on our observations.

 

Personal impressions from the day so far:

 

My first and immediate impression was that IEBC preparations for distribution worked pretty well. All the polling leaders told us they received the materials on Sunday and decided, ahead of time, to camp out at the polling station on Sunday night to open up on time. Almost all polling stations opened by 6 a.m. All polling officials had yellow vests with IEBC logos and official identification. All party agents and observers in the polling station had IEBC-issued identification and sat in assigned positions in the room, but away from the voting process. Cardboard voting stations, mentioned earlier in my March 2 morning entry, were everywhere although in some stations the cardboard was used to create more private voting booths because the facility had tables.

 

The issue of vests and identification is often critical to the credibility of the voting experience. Voters deserve to know whois in the room administering the process and watching them vote. The IFES team wore credentials and presented them to polling officials and security personnel at each location.

 

The item missing from the election deliveries were the electronic poll books – only 66 of 187 needed for the region were delivered.

 

Electronic poll books – laptops loaded with the voting station's voter identification keyed to a thumb print – are one of the great controversies of this election. Some would prefer to be completely reliant on a technological solution to voter identification rather than an old-fashioned paper list. Some have been concerned that the entire technology procurement and implementation schedule were flawed. Battery life has been a concern – a fingerprint ID draws on a battery-powered machine. Most polling stations do not have electric outlets, which is true around the world, including some public school classrooms in the United States. It has also been politicized and consensus has been hard to reach.

 

The back up to the biometric identification system was a list of registered voters for polling stations derived from the 14.3 million Kenyans who registered to vote, got photographed and provided their thumb print to the IEBC. The Kenyan list was quite good, on white paper, with good-sized type and a color photo ID of each voter. The format of the booklet was accessible and sturdy for the polling clerk to check the less than 1,000 names per polling station over the course of a long day. Every voter had to present either a national ID card or a passport. That system worked quite well. Only one voter in the stations visited was not on the list according to polling officials.

 

A second impression was patience. Polls opened at 6 a.m. All officials reported people in line at 4:00 or 4:30 a.m. I reported earlier it would take seven and a half minutes to vote (see March 3, afternoon entry). Most people stood in line a few hours in the sun in order to vote. In schools or other public buildings with multiple polling stations, lines were organized in alphabetical order and people lined up peacefully and waited to vote. The Kenyan Police – at least one uniformed officer per polling station with a semi-automatic weapon – were present but not threatening in any way. Many were just talking with their neighbors in line. Most were sitting just outside the polling station.

 

Ink was used as the verifier of voting. A polling official applied ink with a pen to the nail of the little finger as one exited the polling stations. Some women with manicures/nail polish got ink between their fingers and some had ink on their palms. One reason given was that one might wipe the ink off the nail polish and get back in line to vote again.

 

Women with small babies were allowed to go to the front of the line. The babies also got ink on their fingers because polling officials did not want women to share their babies with other women to avoid standing in line! Clearly not part of the manual.

 

Disabled voters usually meant the elderly with canes. They had access to the front of the line. Again – patience.

 

The six colored ballot boxes which were to match the six colored ballots (see March 2, afternoon and evening entry) were confusing to voters. The colors turned out to be more pastel than vibrant. Three of the colors – white, tan and yellow – were very similar. More than a few voters, particularly the elderly, took a few minutes to make certain they deposited their ballots in the right boxes. I suspect a major question will be how the votes placed in the wrong colored boxes will be counted in some locales. The guidance was that those ballots will be disqualified.

 

Another question will be the capacity of the ballot boxes to hold all the ballots. It was clear by noon that polling officials were shaking the boxes – not to break the seals or affect the integrity of the boxes – but to get randomly folded ballots to settle and allow more space. Given the size of the ballots, an alternative might have been larger boxes. In the 1994 Russian Duma Elections, IFES recommended, and the Russian Election Commission, including the equivalent of a yard stick so polling officials could push ballot papers to the bottom of the boxes.

 

Political party and domestic observers were in place at all polling stations. The IFES team encountered friends from the Nigerian Election Commission – members of the African Union observation team at the Limuru Town Primary School.

 

At each polling station, I observed assisted voting where an elderly or illiterate person asked for assistance to understand the ballot from a polling official. In each case, a multiple of domestic party agents and observers crowded around the voting station.

 

The Kriegler Commission report on the last election highlighted assisted voting practices, where a voter receives assistance at his/her request from a selected party agent, as a cause for questioning the integrity of the voting process. What I saw was a very open process observed by multiple people with the polling official assisting the voter this time.

 

In sum – a good day. I will go to the media and tally centers in Bomas in a few hours and stay until midnight or so.

 

Tonight, the challenge will be during counting. Kenyans went to sleep last time with one winner and woke up the next day with another winner. The communication built on the mistrust already evident and the country exploded. That is clearly not the outcome expected by millions of Kenyans in line today.

 

 

March 3, 2013, afternoon

 

Nairobi, Kenya

 

One logistics item worth noting around the point on logistics and voting: There are six separate ballots and six ballot boxes – color coded – for voters to put the ballots into. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ran a simulation of voting across Kenya and determined that the average time for an individual to vote was 7:30 minutes. Polls open at 6 a.m.; which means in the largest polling stations with 1,000 voters (legal maximum here), if one assumes 100 percent participation and that all the voters are in line by 5 p.m. closing time (standard practice is when the polling hours are over, an elections official stands at the end of the line and doesn't allow any new people to get in line because they arrived too late; everyone still in line has the right to vote), it will take 12.5 hours for all 1,000 people to cast their votes. In other words, the largest 10,000 polling stations probably won't close until somewhere between 8 and 9:30 p.m. Then the counting starts. First race counted will be the Presidential. Most of the media anticipates that the Presidential results won't be clear until sometime between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.

 

IFES studies and experiences resulted in the IEBC expanding the number of polling booths and ordering cardboard stations. The waits would have been longer. Lines will still be long and Election Day will be an 18 hour day for the poll workers who have to close the station and then count the votes. But it could have been longer. Ghana, in comparison, had to extend the election process to two days a few months ago.

 

In addition to meetings today, we had a team brunch with IFES Kenya and our consultants as well as dinner with the 2012 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award winner Maimuna Mwidau who really connected all the dots of Kenyan personalities and families. She is going to be a television commentator on election night. She had spent the entire day briefing women observers and international delegations.

 

 

March 3, 2013

Nairobi, Kenya

When comparing electoral systems and trying to judge voters' "trust" in their process, it fascinates me to think about what one system considers acceptable behavior and what the Kenyans and other societies term "cheating."

In Kenya, for instance, voters cannot wear party colors, badges or identification while voting. A t-shirt or a hat with the party's colors or a candidate's image is reason enough to take a voter out of line and send him/her home to change clothes. I don't know if party agents or observers are under similar restrictions but they are serious about no campaign activity at the polling place.

In 2012 at my polling station in McLean, Virginia, there were plenty of people – party agents and voters – with Obama, Romney, Democratic Party and Republican Party hats, shirts and even campaign buttons. It presented no issues.

In many Western democracies, it is common for political parties and candidates to organize transportation to the polls for their voters, particularly the elderly. In Kenya, the offer of transportation is something of value and hence illegal. I have been in U.S. political campaigns where we hired babysitters (usually a local Girl Scout troop) to take care of children while their mothers went to vote. All of these measures are illegal in Kenya.

Political rallies and advertising are supposed to cease the day before the election. Kenya is not alone in having such a prohibition of pre-election day activities. Some countries try to "cool off" their politicians up to five days before the election. The U.S. has campaign activity underway to the very end of the election.

While attending IFES’ U.S. Election Program and visiting polling stations on Election Day, Chairman Hassan noted the presence of water, coffee and donuts offered to voters by party representatives. All such gifts are illegal in Kenya.

It is all a matter of trust in how politics are conducted and elections are decided. Kenya is emerging from a disastrous election, which threatened the country and its institutions a few years ago. This election is a test and the start of rebuilding trust.  

 

 

March 2, 2013, afternoon and evening

 

Nairobi, Kenya

 

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has worked with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the UK Department for International Development (DfID) to organize a tally and media center in Bomas. Bomas is a site of cultural and political importance to Kenya, where a collection of the country's history is organized for school groups as well as tourists. Bomas has also been the locale for political announcements concerning constitutional reforms, referendum results and now the 2013 election results. It is located on the outskirts of Nairobi – a good hour from the center of the city.

Yesterday's review of the physical layout of the media and tally center as well as the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure supporting the entire undertaking took better than three hours. The IFES Kenya team, led by Chief of Party Mike Yard, is supported by longtime consultants from Ireland, the Philippines, Uganda, UK, and Australia.

My question to the team was simple: Will the electoral and technology investment by the IEBC supported by IFES, DfID, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) work to secure the trust of the Kenyan electorate on election night?

The answers were complicated:  Lives of batteries for different devices; quality and security of electric power; signal strength and penetration of mobile phones; and deployment of election materials and ballots which were printed in the UK and then air freighted to Kenya. Other factors include the quality of training programs -- particularly on late decisions such as whether to count ballots placed in the wrong ballot box. There are six ballots, each for a different office. The ballots and ballot boxes are all color-coded, but what happens if a voter deposits all six ballot papers in one box? Are the five ballots in the wrong box counted or are they disqualified?  Differences between provisional and certified results can also create issues, as can dispute adjudication. For example, can the local decision on aforementioned six ballots be reviewed later? All these important questions received qualified answers.

Time is always the fundamental issue in elections. It takes time to reach consensus and implement national policy. Procurement requires time. Testing takes time. Deployment takes time. Here in Kenya, herculean efforts have been underway to organize, distribute and finally deploy. One day to go and I know our colleagues at the IEBC are now checking every polling station to be certain that election materials have arrived as well as to figure out the emergency deliveries needed and how to get the materials there on time. Aircraft have been chartered to get materials to the borders. Remember, Kenya has 33,000 polling stations to supply by Sunday night (March 3) to open on time on Election Day, March 4.

In short, the answer to my simple question at Bomas of whether all that has been invested in this election would secure the trust of the Kenyan people was that all the testing would be complete by noon on Sunday so the system could be stabilized and ready for operations on election night.

There are over 1,000 international observers here in Kenya. IEBC Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan and IFES hosted a small dinner for the Chairs of various African election commissions, who are here in Nairobi to observe the electoral process.

As Chairman Hassan reviewed Kenya's preparations and expressed appreciation for all the lessons learned from his colleagues' experiences in Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa, the emerging theme of the table conversation was the "cost of trust" in the electoral system and accepted political outcomes.

South Africa's continuing maturing democracy, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the April 27, 1994 election of Nelson Mandela next year, now prints their ballots in country compared to the expense/trust factor involved in printing watermarked, serial ballots out of country. The biometric identification systems deployed by Sierra Leone and Kenya; the evolution of printed voters' lists with photographs of the voters, in addition to voters’ name at every polling station; and the mechanics and rights of the disapora and convicted prisoners to vote in each country were part of the evening's discussion. For election practitioners in other parts of the world, these topics may seem arcane but to these African professionals devoted to making democracy a solution for their country's political conflicts, each item of the discussion reflected years of investment and thought.

IFES’ relationship with the IEBC here in Kenya is obviously a partnership which has been earned by the leadership and commitment of the entire IFES team from Nairobi to Washington, D.C. to our consultants. It is clear that everyone is making a contribution and a difference.

The final anecdote is simply that the country is fragile. Yesterday there were two major, final pre-election rallies in Nairobi. IFES CoP Yard told me that five years ago, people from opposing camps got into fights en route to their rallies; riot police were deployed; tear gas was released. Yesterday, we watched (mostly) young men in orange and red shirts and/or hats walking on the same side of the street going to their respective party's rallies. No violence or tension. At the same time, people were telling stories about hateful brochures being distributed in neighborhoods with threats of violence if neighbors voted for one party or another. My eyes see this enormous public media investment in peace and my ears hear about threats. There are tensions.


March 2, 2013

Nairobi, Kenya

My first official meeting in Kenya was with Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan and other IEBC members to review preparations for the election.

Election management is sometimes all about logistics: 800 professional staff deployed; 240,000 part time poll workers hired and trained; over 90,000 security/police forces deployed; 33,000 voting stations -- limited by law to no more than 1,000 people per station; 14.3 million registered voters with biometric IDs. Chairman Hassan called the election "the largest event management in the country's history."

One conversation was simply about the number of voting booths per polling station. Analysis by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) revealed that there were not enough polling booths to ensure voters would cycle through the queue and be able to finish voting at a reasonable time. The solution: Cardboard voting stations are now being deployed so that the classrooms serving as polling stations can have six or seven people voting at the same time in privacy. The cardboard voting booths allow only one voter at a time. Even with the additional polling booths, the IEBC expects 10,000 of the voting stations to have lines which will keep the stations open past the 5 p.m. closing time.  One universal rule is that if individuals are in line, they get to vote.

For this election, there are 20,000 domestic observers and 1,000 international observers. 

Chairman Hassan is organizing a dinner for the chairs of African election commissions who are in town – this includes the chairs from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa. I am invited.

As part of an effort to curtail election violence, there are codes of conduct signed by all seven men and one woman presidential candidates which pledge them to (a) respect the authority of the IEBC, (b) conduct peaceful campaigns, (c) accept the results, and (d) use legal means to challenge the results.

The public dialogues on the election and the hope for a peaceful election are visible everywhere. Last night two of the television stations devoted their airtime to the election, featuring public service announcements (PSAs) about peace. The candidates for president have all had prayer rallies at churches, mosques and temples. They have also recorded PSAs endorsing a peaceful election day.

Kenya knows the whole world is watching them. During my meeting with Chairman Hassan, I reported that former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan talked at length about Kenya when I was with him in Geneva. Hassan responded that two days prior Annan had called the IEBC to congratulate them on their efforts and wish them well. "Kenya will not burn again," said Hassan.

Among the many efforts they have made to deliver a better poll is the creation of a public call center where citizens can dial in and report problems such as polls not opening on time and lack of materials. They also will maintain a call-in line for staff and have assigned "rapid response" teams to deploy as needed with additional materials, workers, etc.  

Chairman Hassan said the people hired to open the polling stations have been requested to sleep at the polling station so the station will open on time on Election Day. They are also instructed to do an inventory of all the materials delivered the day before.