The Citizen Handbook

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010: The People’s Power

Elections: Representation of the People

Election Monitoring and Observation

No election in any country is completely free of mistakes. People run elections and people are prone to making mistakes. Additionally, because elections produce winners and losers – and no one wants to lose – some people may try to interfere with the electoral process to affect the outcome in their favour. Effective election observation and monitoring, therefore, can:
      ·         reduce mistakes and fraud;
      ·         build confidence in the electoral process;
      ·         enhance democratic methods of decision-making; and
      ·         promote peaceful resolution of conflicts.

What is Election Observation?

The IEBC, in its Voter Education Training Manual, defines election observation as:

“The process of gathering information related to the electoral process in a systematic way and the issuing of reports and evaluations on the conduct of electoral processes based on information gathered by accredited observers without interference in the process itself.” Source: “Voter Education Training Manual,” IEBC (2012)

The manual further states that the purpose of election observation is to:
     ·         detect malpractices in the electoral process;
     ·         provide information that can be used in the improvement of an electoral system;
     ·         highlight pertinent issues unique to certain electoral units;
     ·         influence future policies governing an electoral system; and
     ·         identify instances of voter and human-rights violations.

Primary Activities of Observers

The four main activities of election observation are to:
     ·         observe processes and activities organized during elections;
     ·         collate facts and observations;
     ·         interpret the facts gathered against the laws governing elections as well as basic democratic standards, in order to see whether or not the elections meet the threshold of credibility as defined by law and accepted by the international community; and
     ·         outline the findings and the interpretation based on them in a document or report that is normally shared with the public.

Specifically, IEBC’s Voter Education Training Manual further outlines the roles of election observers. They are to:
     ·         promote free and fair elections;
     ·         identify electoral malpractices and bring them to the attention of the electoral body (e.g. IEBC);
     ·         compile and write reports on electoral malpractices in a political electoral unit (e.g. ward, constituency, county, etc.);
     ·         pursue corrective action to electoral malpractices;
     ·         bolster voter confidence;
     ·         act as a deterrent to those interested in undermining the electoral system and process; and
     ·         influence policy making by IEBC on the unique nature of the electoral process.

Types of Election Observers

Domestic Observers
Representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) observe voter registration processes in nearly all countries holding democratic elections around the world. These domestic observers act as impartial and independent actors who seek to determine the fairness and transparency of the electoral process, including voter registration, polling, counting of votes, and tabulating election results.

International Observers
The international community is also interested in the conduct of elections in Kenya. A transparent and credible electoral process will be crucial in determining whether or not our general elections meet international standards of free, fair, and transparent democratic elections.This will influence the perception of donor and development partners on the political and electoral processes in our country.

Party and Candidate Agents
Party and candidate agents are representatives chosen by political party or independent candidates to monitor elections on their behalf at a specific polling station on Election Day. Unlike domestic and international observers who must be neutral in their work, party or candidate agents have a partisan interest and support a party or candidate on the ballot in a given ward, constituency or county. They cannot, however, disrupt the polling process or interfere with voters regardless of their partisan interest.

Accreditation, Rights and Privileges

Accreditation Requirements
A foreign mission, political party, independent candidate, or organization must designate a person or group seeking to observe elections. Interested persons and groups should consult with IEBC on any additional requirements for observer accreditation. In order to get access to any polling station on Election Day an observer must have an IEBC-issued accreditation badge, letter of appointment, and a signed oath that he or she will not disclose how a person has voted.

Rights and Privileges
According to IEBC’s Voter Education Training Manual, every officially accredited election observer has specific rights and privileges, including scrutinizing the official list of electors, entering polling stations and places appointed for vote counting, seeking information and clarification from IEBC officials, and entering and leaving a polling station at will.

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