Wednesday, 10 August 2022. It was the morning after the general election and tallying was ongoing at the constituency tallying centers across the country. I visited Kajiado North, Langata and Kibra constituency tallying centers and captured the situation in each tallying center in the following logs:
Kajiado North Constituency.
0930 hrs: I arrive at Oloolaiser High School, Kajiado North Constituency’s tallying center. The center has a heavy police presence – the Regular Police, General Service Unit (GSU), and the Administration Police (AP). Outside the hall where the process of tallying is underway, there is a long queue of Presiding Officers with their ballot boxes waiting to submit results from their polling stations.
Inside the tallying hall, the IEBC staff are busy processing the results coming in. Candidates, agents, and journalists are listening as the Returning Officer announces the results, one polling station after another, after which taking pictures of the results forms is permitted.
The tallying is supposed to be followed by the announcement of the Member of County Assembly (MCA) and Member of Parliament (MP) winners. The heavy police presence inside also alarms me, I wonder why so many of them have been deployed.
A journalist tells me she has been in the tallying center since 7.00 p.m. “The Presiding Officers started arriving here from around 3.30 a.m.,” she says.
1055 hrs: I am having a conversation with Titus Matheka, the United Democratic Alliance party MCA aspirant for Ongata Rongai ward. He is confident that he will win. “I am only waiting for the certificate,” he tells me. Meanwhile, only about 20 out of 210 polling stations in the constituency have been announced and it is clear that the exercise is not about to end soon.
1220 hrs: When I arrive at the Multimedia University, Langata Constituency’s tallying center, there is a flurry of activity at the main gate. The commotion owes to a rowdy crowd, who I later learn is there to flank the ODM parliamentary aspirant for Langata Constituency, Phelix Odiwuor (alias Jalang’o). A journalist tells me that Jalang’o left a few moments ago.
Outside the tallying center is a long queue of buses, coming in to deliver ballot boxes from the polling stations. The Presiding Officers offload the ballot boxes and join a long queue, waiting to submit their results. Some of the Presiding Officers who I talk to tell me that they have been here from as early as 6 a.m. and by 1.00 p.m. they had not handed in their results.
1230 hrs: Inside the tallying hall, everyone is seated while the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) announces the results one by one from the 224 polling stations in Langata Constituency.
0140 hrs: I am chatting with the Presiding Officers in the queue outside. They all tell me they have barely slept in days and swear they will never take up the role again. Our discussions are interrupted every few minutes when they have to move their ballot boxes with the slow movement of the queue. I notice that the Kenya Police, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), and National Youth Service (NYS) personnel are helping out with moving the ballot boxes.
1653 hrs: My colleague Priscilla Wahiu and I arrive at the Upper Hill School, Kibra Constitency’s tallying center.
I am surprised that the security here is not as tight as the previous tallying centers I visited earlier. However, the queue is equally long. Dusk is fast approaching and the Presiding Officers worry they will have to wait another night to complete the process.
1727 hrs: We speak with two election observers at the hall entrance. The observers express their confidence about the election process, citing that the queue is moving slowly because the Returning Officer is very careful in verifying the results.
1815 hrs: Outside, we have yet another conversation with several Presiding Officers. Frustration is evident in their faces. Jackson Kyengo, a Presiding Officer from the YMCA polling station, feels that if more people were verifying the result forms then the process would be quicker. Other Presiding Officers I speak with share the same sentiments.
1819 hrs: On our way out, a commotion at the entrance to the tallying center draws our attention. The Presiding Officers, we establish, are protesting that other people are getting preferential treatment and skipping the line. One Presiding Officer says that the queue is disorganized and it is therefore difficult to know who is ahead of who, leaving them at the mercy of the security officials.
1843 hrs: We leave the center with the impression that the exercise will not end anytime soon; not even in the course of the night.