Dead voters and other ways to steal a Kenyan election

Nairobi (AFP) – Elections in Kenya are a fraught business, with polls beset with claims of rigging and intimidation, some subtle, some not, and this year’s vote on August 8 is no different.

A decade after a disputed election led to the country’s worst electoral violence with over 1,100 killed, fear of irregularities is growing.

“In Kenya, people say the dead come back to vote, and then return to their graves,” said George Morara, chairman of the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).

The fraudulent inclusion of the deceased on the voters’ register is just one way to cheat your way to victory in Kenya.

– Chase, scare, buy –

Recent months’ violence which has displaced citizens in Laikipia and Baringo counties has worried observers who fear ostensible banditry and land struggles as masking efforts to push people from their place of registration.

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch in early July documented incidents of intimidation in the Naivasha region, a hotspot of violence in 2007-08.

Another strategy is to “rent” voters’ identity cards during elections, essentially paying someone not to turn out. “When you have someone’s ID, this is the guarantee he will not be able to vote,” said Morara, adding that some in Kenya will sell their ID and therefore their vote for 1,000 shillings ($10; 8 euros).

– Gerrymandering –

Kenya’s electoral law allows voters to choose where they register, opening up the possibility of manipulating the polls by bussing in supporters to stack the odds in a particular constituency.

“In some constituencies, we notice that the registration levels are higher than normal,” said Kelly Lusuli of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC). “We fear that some are paying others to come and register in a constituency in which they don’t live so as to favour a candidate.”

– Dodgy technology –

In 2013, Kenya introduced an electronic system that included biometric voter registration intended to ensure only those registered could vote.

It also provided for the electronic transmission of results from polling stations across the country to the national tally centre in the capital, reducing opportunities for tampering with result sheets en route.

But technology is neither fool-proof nor tamper-resistant with hackers able to modify results or render the entire system unuseable.

But simpler still, said Nic Cheeseman, a professor at Birmingham University and a Kenya expert, is finding a way not to use the electronic system.

“The head of the polling station can…

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