The online business dictionary defines “Secret Ballot” as a method of voting that ensures that at the time of voting no one else knows who the voter chose. This essence is enshrined in the constitution, which states that “an election shall be taken by secret ballot.”
In previous elections in the last 2 decades, when voters queue to cast their ballot, no one can tell who preferred who just by fact of being on the line.
On Thursday, it may be slightly different.
I have been thinking about what secret ballot really means and more so how this relates to the October 26th. The assumption here being that those who support Jubilee will turn out in big numbers to vote, and that those who support NASA will not turn out to vote as advised by their presidential candidate. It will be anyone’s guess therefore where one’s preference is on Thursday based on whether one will be queuing to vote, or staying at home.
Does this then turn the election into a hybrid of the Mlolongo system and secret ballot? What will happen to voters who like to remain anonymous about their political preference? Will they still turn out to vote?
In 1988, Kenya went into an election under the Mlolongo system after years of using the secret ballot. The previous year, then president Daniel Arap Moi had pushed for this change arguing that Mlolongo method was best suited for Africa. The effect was that this intimidated and voters and stifled that freedom to choose. That year, only 14% of the registered voters in Nairobi turned out to vote. In Mombasa, just 22% of the voters turned out to vote.
The inability to remain anonymous about a choice, more so in a contested environment can affect voter turn out. Times however, may have changed and voters are not shy about who they support. If this is the case then, does it mean mlolongo may make a comeback?
All told, the conclusion one can make out of all this is that Thursday’s vote will be a referendum on Raila. The final turn out tally may as well be a gauge on the number of people who rejected Raila’s push for no election. Will it be 3 million? 5 million? 8 million? 10 million?