It was my first time voting in a national election, having been out of the country in 1997 and 2002. It was a very empowering process – especially in this election that is going to be a tight one.
Despite turning up at 6:15 am turnout was already crazy. I’m really curious to see what the turnout will be overall because the few polling stations I visited in Lang’ata had an incredible turnout. When talking to guys in the line in Mada, they said they’ve never seen anything like this.
Some of his observations from the day:
Ballot papers were not on site like they are supposed to be. They only got delivered at 8:00 am, leading to lots of agitation among the crowd that had turned up early to vote. The crowd finally broke the gate into the school and rushed in (me included otherwise I’d still be in the line) after getting tired of waiting. Once that happened temperatures came down…
There was lots of camaraderie and good humor in the line. Something very social about voting, which I didn’t expect. People also expressed their determination to vote no matter how long they had to stand in line. No one was wearing any party insignia or logos. There was also heavy tension in the air – any hint of something shady and the crowd could have lynched guys.
Turnout. Turnout. Turnout. This election will come down to that. Several people told me that this was the first time they had voted since the 90s – this is definitely an election of high stakes.
Something else that is not getting a lot of play, especially in the international media, which is focused on the ethnicity issue is the parliamentary elections. Voters really want to send a message to MPs – we are watching you , we are tired of your antics and we are going to use our vote to let you know how we feel. A number of guys told me that they are there to vote because if they don’t vote then they have nothing to complain about when the leaders mess up. It’s great to see a culture of accountability developing.
See the full post here.
Hat Tip to Ryan Sheely, a grad student at Yale doing his field work in Kenya.