Election day in Nanyuki

Election day in Nanyuki. Today was a quiet day in town as we waited out the Kenya election. Overall a relaxing day with some bike maintenance on the drive chain as well as patching that slow leak in my back tire. I also updated my “Plan” page with likely plans after we arrive in Cape Town (still a ways to go for that as we’ve cycled just 40% of the distance so far).

Now watching the live results of the election on TV (one candidate seems to be over 50% of early vote returns with 2.5% counted but we don’t know where those votes are from). In Nanyuki voting all seemed pretty orderly:

  • There was a large park block in town. Along one side of the park was a row of tents marked alphabetically by “stream” and then first name. I understood stream to be similar to last name.
  • Lined in front of these tents were half a dozen lines each with at least a hundred people carefully waiting their turn. Unlike the political rallies, I didn’t see much in way of bright campaign colors, e.g. orange, yellow or red. The TV tells us that overall voter turnout was 86% of registered voters (14.3 million registered voters, 33,000 poling stations, ~100,000 police). Don’t know about rest of the country, but Nanyuki looked very orderly. Polls were apparently open from 6am to 5pm. Once people credentials were compared with registration, they voted and then had their index fingers marked with indelible ink.
  • Talked with one man who showed me his marked index finger and asked if I had voted. Told him I wasn’t Kenyan and hence it wouldn’t make sense for outsiders like me to vote. He laughed and observed I probably would be a Odinga supported (I could have the coalition wrong but it was opposite of his favorite).
  • Shops and businesses in town were mostly closed. A few cafes and local supermarket were open. However, most banks and other shops seemed to be closed today for the election.
  • Voters were asked to vote in six different positions: president, parliament representative, women’s representative, senator, governor, senator and county representative. There are eight presidential contenders with two leading candidates (Kenyatta from Jubilee coalition and Odinga from Cord coalition). If any presidential candidate receives 50.1% of the vote and at least 25% in half the counties, they win outright. Otherwise there is a runoff.
  • The election commission has up to seven days to declare a winner, but has promised to deliver results within 48 hours. TV stations also have live results coming in in the evening as I’m watching them.
  • US embassy had a twitter feed and mid-day was reporting only isolated violence in north east and along the coast. The newspaper reports that British government had previously sent message calming fears and advising tourists and expats to go about their daily routines normally, while the US government had issued more cautionary notes prior to the election. Newspaper has big editorial asking winners to be magnanimous and losers not to be sore losers – and pointing out how much the country can lose economically with poor election response. Stock and currency markets were apparently positive as investors guessed the election would go well.

First reports coming in are presidential level, but over time these will start getting broken down by county as well as showing the other races. We still have some time before the results really start coming in as well as seeing how the country reacts. However, what I can see and read from Nanyuki looks encouraging so far of this election being a process with high level of interest but also being conducted orderly fashion.

Tomorrow more shops should be open and look forward to venturing further, e.g. to find and cross the equator which is just a few km south of town.

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