Kenya: “Recounting the Votes Would Undermine Democratic Institutions”

Nobel Laureate and former Tetu MP, Prof Wangari Mathai, said the presidential votes should be recounted to dispel any doubts. “Counting is not a big deal… it is less expensive than having the burden of feeling to have been unfairly denied the win.”

The well educated, skilled, and experienced accountant is the first line of defense for the capitalist system. … My advice to the accounting profession, antifraud professionals, and Wall Street: Do not trust, just verify. Verify, verify, and verify.Sam E. Antar, “former CFO of Crazy Eddie and now a convicted felon who helped mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered in the 1980s.”

The US government released another statement from New York, urging Kenyans to accept the final election results calmly, saying it had “great confidence” in the ECK and its chairman, Samuel Kivuitu.The Nation (Nairobi) today

The Standard (Kenya) | ODM, PNU in war of words: Calls for a recount in the Kenya elections are met with calls to “respect the integrity of institutions” and characterized as “inciting violence.”


Subsequent updates [As of January 3, 2007]:

It is fascinating to watch how a lot of media coverage of the problematic Kenyan election quickly shifted gears from (1) “The opposition will win the election” to (2) “The opposition is promoting violence and rumors” over election fraud allegations. Without passing “Go” or collecting $200.

Also notably incongruent: Reports that (1) the challenger was beating the incumbent by a substantial margin, and (2) that the election was very, very tight.

As in “a technical tie within the margin of error of opinion polling.” As a Brazilian observer noted in last year’s election here:

If the polls start to converge on this kind of “technical tie” between Lula and Alckmin, we are in a risky situation. In the situation of a technical tie, the possibilities of electoral fraud are enormous. I would say that the temptation of electronic fraud would be impossible to resist.

See I’ve Seen This Movie II: When Mariachis Learn to Play Maracatú

Dueling opinion polls, some of them indicating the proverbial “tightly contested technical tie within the polling margin of error” is, indeed, a story we have seen a lot of in recent years. See, for example

The Nation (Kenya) reports that “The US and British Governments Call on Kenyans to Accept the Results”

But Her Majesty’s Government cannot, I think, be reasonably interpreted as calling on Kenyans to accept the results as published. It is calling on the election authorities to produce results that are acceptable to Kenyans. As these are not.

The U.S. and British governments reportedly diverge sharply at this point as to the degree of confidence expressed in the ECK.

The Nation seems to be mischaracterizing the position of HMG to its readers.

Here is the official statement from the Foreign Office:

‘We are disturbed at the violence surrounding the elections. The British Government calls for an end to the violence, respect for the democratic process and for all Kenyan leaders to act responsibly. This is a pivotal moment for Kenya. It is vital that the entire election process meets the expectations of the Kenyan electorate. The international community hopes that Kenya will live up to both the letter and the spirit of its democratic principles.’

The Brits think the vote-counting part of the election looks phonier than a Sino-Paraguayan “Tongka” truck, and has put the onus squarely on the election authority to make things right.

The Rashōmon effect in election monitoring reports is not a new phenomenon in Africa, either, apparently:

Following the 2005 Ethiopian elections the Carter Center’s and the European Union’s electoral observation reports became highly politicized. In the post election period, the two organizations came to different conclusions in regards to the validity of the electoral process. At the core of these differences were the organizations’ differing conceptions of what constitutes free and fair electoral practices. In the post election period the European Union’s and Carter Center’s reports have been pitted against one and other as those concerned with the election results seek to make sense of the reports. –Lucilia Pereira, “Free and Fair: The Politicization of Election Monitoring Reports,” Thesis, U. Saskatchewan, Oct. 2006.

It’s Mexico (and possibly Alagoas) 2006 all over again. And Ecuador, recall, experienced a scandalous delay in getting a result due to the (still unexplained) failure of a Brazilian technology consortium to deliver the quick count. Executives fled the country, pursued by a fraud investigation. See

I am reading a presentation by the ECK president from a year or so ago on how technology was going to help it smooth out problems in future elections.

What technology was applied here? Who was contracted to provide it? Why did it not apparently not smooth out the problem? (Electrical outages at some of the “constitutuencies” has been cited here and there.)

If you ask me, the role of the International Republican Institute in this election, which mounted a shadow elections observer mission and is now also calling upon all parties to accept the results and “respect democratic institutions,” needs to be probed harder than the prostate of a 70-year-old life-long chainsmoker.

Request from the Kenyan Oranges: “Double-check the vote tally, please.”

The EU election observer noted evidence that the results from local vote tally forms had been inflated by the time they were published by the ECK (The Elections Commission of Kenya).

As tension continues to rise over the fate of Kenya’s recently held General Election, ODM has alleged that Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) accepted results from 48 constituencies without valid documents. While addressing the Press at KICC, Nairobi on Sunday afternoon, ODM pentagon member, Mr William Ruto, asked ECK to peruse files from the affected constituencies.

Rejoinder: The opposition does not respect democratic institutions and is resorting to antidemocratic violence to seize power!

But in a swift rejoinder, PNU leaders held a press conference at the same venue and rubbished ODM claims saying they were meant to incite the public and cause violence.Garsen MP elect and assistant minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr Danson Mungatana, said ODM leaders “lack respect for ECK” and must respect the laws governing the conduct of elections. PNU accused ODM of spreading information that he termed “half truths” and inciting citizens to violence and destruction of property.

“Rubbished.” You have to love the way the former subjects of the British Empire have customized the lingo to impart their own lyrical sensibility to it. (As we North American ex-colonials have as well, of course. Dude, yo.)

If the computer says it, it must be true:

Ruto said that Forms 16 and 16A give all the election results validity. “What ECK read were just figures assigned to individuals,” said Eldoret North MP-elect adding that ECK read computer print outs. He cited Igembe South, Igembe North, Mathira, Kieni, Rongai, Kuria, Kiambaa and Juja as some of the constituencies where the ECK tampered with results.

What is Form 16? I need to read the ECK’s explanation of the workflow to get an idea of the procedural issue here. Is the following a Form 16?

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Source: BBC

Process handoffs are generally the points of highest risk. This sounds like a case in point.
Process handoffs in Costa Rican electoral tribunal quick-count system. Votes (1) transmitted by telephone to regional centers, where the data is (2) manually entered for transmission to the TSE, via both private network and Internet, and from there to (3) the news media, via Internet. Network and telephone lines monitored by two private firms, ICE (telephony) and RACSA (ISP). A manual count is taken to confirm the quick-count, once (5) the ballots are physically delivered to the TSE in San Jose. White-hat hackers: Devise the simplest possible plan for defrauding this system. What occurs to me is that you (1) mess with the preliminary results during data entry or transmission, and then (2) mess with the ballots during transportation to make the results agree with the (messed-with) quick count. This is basically how the mapaches operate in Mexico. A very rigorously documented chain of custody on the ballot documents — from voter sign-in to the final vote-count — would therefore be paramount. In Mexico, cases of sealed ballots tampered with while in IFE custody – the classic mapache scenario — were documented.

He further challenged ECK to abide by law perusing all the documents to authenticate them.

Accurate beancounting is a threat to world peace and a Communist plot:

But PNU leaders urged ECK to announce the results for peace to prevail. Sirisia MP-elect and Assistant minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Moses Wetangula, said the forms being referred to by ODM were confidential.

Peace trumps accurate beancounting: The eternal slogan of the benevolent generalissimo.

The ethos argument: Trust the ECK without verifying.

He said ECK remains an impartial arbiter and any poll disputes should be settled in a court of law. He urged Kenyans to uphold peace saying ODM are responsible for the anxiety being witnessed in the country.

Audit the counting of the beans:

Nobel Laureate and former Tetu MP, Prof Wangari Mathai, said the presidential votes should be recounted to dispel any doubts.”Counting is not a big deal… it is less expensive than having the burden of feeling to have been unfairly denied the win.”

The ECK had announced new technology in order to expedite the release of elections results this time around.

According to Mr Kivuitu, the results of this year’s elections would be known a day after the casting of ballots as ECK had introduced a new system of reporting using Short Text Message (sms) and email. Every constituency will have a computer to transmit the results. “The announcement of results will be quick. In 2002, I was beaten for delay and I don’t want a similar scenario to befall me or my successor,” Mr Kivuitu said.

But who designed, operated, and implemented this system? The ECK’s ICT division does not have its own Web page, and the “procurement” section does not actually list contracts awarded, which is where you would generally look to see who gets what money to provide what goods and services. Kenyan e-government leave a lot to be desired in terms of the magic of e-transparency, I am finding.

Text messaging from an observer on the ground to a UC Berkeley econ guy.

The ECK convened the media around 4:15pm, apparently to announce that Kibaki had won. Before they were able to accomplish this, they announced a disputed result from a local constituency, ODM loyalists raised a ruckus in the room, and after several minutes of chaos, the meeting was adjourned without an announcement. ODM is now producing observers and even a member of the ECK who claim to have witnessed alteration of results. One of these observers, from a local polling station, claims that the ballot boxes were stuffed after the final tally, so that any attempt to return to the original ballots is now fruitless. The only documents that ODM has to fight with are these form 16A’s, which we have heard much about today. The forms are supposed to contain the constituency-level results, attested to by observers from all the parties. These results were read out in public, and reported by the media. ODM’s demand is to have an open tallying of the results contained on these forms, but I suspect that even this evidence is now being destroyed or altered in such a way as to make them useless.

Sounds an awful like African mapacheria. See

In a post called “High-Tech Democracy or What?” [some blogger] notes that …

the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), in conjunction with mobile phone service providers has also been running an interactive SMS service through which voters get to enquire about their registration status.

What mobile phone service providers? Let’s see: There’s Safari COM …

A USAID press release from 2002 — “USAID assistance lauded for role in Kenya’s landmark transition: Untold tales of pre-election fears and how USAID assisted” — takes credit for equipping the ECK with a modern communications network:

An assessment of ECK’s communications and networks system by the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) in February 2002, revealed that 2,350 polling stations did not have a communication system. As a result, USAID and ECK agreed on a work plan to provide IT equipment and a fax machine to each District Office and Returning Officer Offices, while satellite phones to offices with no reliable telephone lines.

If virtual ballot-stuffing allegedly occurred between the precincts and the ECK, we need to know more about the technical specifications of its communications network — and particularly the security of the wireless networks over which this data was transmitted.

A total of $1,038,774 worth of communications network was provided viz. 100 computers, 100 UPSs, 80 printers, 158 fax machines and 111 Motorola satellite phones, significantly increasing the capacity of the ECK to administer the elections and provide secure communications and transit of ballots and electoral results between field offices and the Nairobi headquarters. “…although the system was not used to its full capacity…we have no doubt that future elections will be conducted more efficiently and securely..” says Commissioner Jack Tumwa.

Motorola two-way from Nextel is said to be the preferred communications method of heavily armed, political enemy-whacking, mobbed-up Rio de Janeiro parapoliticians.

In the Costa Rican referendum, results were also transmitted over private commercial networks. What data security measures (above) were in place? Difficult to find out.

That USAID=CIA is frequently denied, but somebody should do a global poll one of these days to see how many key influentials believe that USAID=CIA. I bet you would find that is a very common belief.

And if that is the case, then the notion that CIA=USAID supplied the means to stage a (botched) soft coup in these Kenyan elections should, I predict, quickly gain traction.

Which is, as always, bad for the Karen Hughes-managed national branding strategy.

People start to think the United States of America© is run by sociopathic liars, cheaters and thieves. I would prefer not to believe that — somebody please give me some solid reasons to doubt it — but the fact remains that this has become an extremely effective talking point for USA-bashers around the world.

Including those crazy fuckers who wiped out 3,000 of my fellow New Yorkers a few years back. (You may remember seeing that on CNN. I will certainly never forget seeing it with my own eyes.)

Who have not, as the euphemism goes, been “removed from the battlefield” yet WHY, exactly?

What are we paying these people to do, anyway, if not precisely that? Dick around with African elections in the clumsiest fashion possible? I wish the GAO would explain to me why this is a good use of my taxpayer dollars.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s