Growing trust deficit is the next focus of Kenyan electoral reforms – Business Daily
An IEBC official holds a KIEMS gadget during tallying at Nyeri Technical in Nyeri town on August 9, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG
A few days ago, I was asked why our election results transmission process is too complex and whether it could be faster. My efforts to clarify that the Constitution gives the IEBC seven days within which to declare the results of the presidential election were not helpful in assuaging the anxiety felt by the questioner.
Several others have blamed the IEBC for the delay and changes to the system. Others have blamed the courts. I disagree.
The main problem with our elections revolves around trust. While the elections are expected to be free and fair, we lack trust in the electoral systems and processes. We aspire for an election where the person we support wins irrespective of their popularity and plurality of votes.
We know that those we do not support share similar aspirations. In the middle of this we try to put in place systems that will prevent them from manipulating the process while hoping that the same rules can work in our favour. This trust deficit explains the elaborate nature of the result transmission system.
The argument for adoption of technology in the country’s election system was to address the challenges of irregularities around the voter registration and voting system and enhance the integrity of the system. Technology is, however, supposed to also enhance efficiency.
Ordinarily, what you do manually should be slower than what is done using technology. If you send a physical letter to your rural village in Nairobi it will arrive later than if you send message through your phone.
Taking this analogy, the use of technology should enable us to know the results of an election result real time. It should be possible for Kenyans to have known who their next President was going to be by the night of the August 9.
Once the elections dust has settled, as is required in our laws, it will be time for post-election evaluation. I hope we will not spend more time on the rules governing elections but instead deal with our trust questions.
In that conversation, we need to be honest with ourselves and debate how we can ensure that we have elections that are not do-or-die affairs.
Elections should be about exercising sovereign will, accepting the outcome of that vote and knowing that it represents the country’s will and then moving on. The country must find ways of ensuring that life and business do not come to a standstill on election day.
While the government declared August 9 a public holiday many citizens take the entire week glued to television and radio stations with others on social media following the presidential election results.
Those at work are their physically but emotionally at roller-coaster until the chairperson of the IEBC announces the outcome of the elections. We can resolve the above problem not by asking how to make the transmission process faster but instead whether we can enhance the trust in the election process itself.
This is not about the electoral managers or institutions but about our governance. The citizenry and the leaders require to have this honest introspection and explore solutions that gives confidence to all.
Without this, we must accept to live with the same transmission system that we have used for this election since that is not where the problem lies. It lies in our distrust of each other. The political class across board are the greatest culprits in this situation.