All you need to know before you vote

All sovereign power belongs to the people. This is the first article of the constitution which explains that all power originates from the people and is exercised directly or through democratically elected leaders.

Sovereign power is delegated to the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary at two levels; National and County. From this we can deduce some of the key proponents of the new constitution as:

  • Democracy where the people get to elect their leaders/representatives.
  • Devolution where the National Government delegates some of its power to a lower level.
  • Equality where discrimination is abhorred, human rights and freedoms are promoted and historical injustices such as gender parity are addressed.

It is through these pillars that the principle of Universal Suffrage is applied to the Kenya Electoral System ensuring that adult citizens participate in a general election held on the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year.

The pillars also administered the principle of Independence of the Judiciary, meaning it is not to be controlled by the other arms and as such its power is not decentralized. It is handled by professions appointed through an open, transparent and competitive process. For this reason, the general elections dictate the members of the other two arms at both levels. All members of the legislative assemblies are either elected by the people or nominated by the political parties in the interest of marginalized groups. For the Executive, the people only elect the heads (along with their deputies) who will select the members of their cabinets with the approval of the legislature.

Lastly, through Equality the constitution introduced the two-thirds Gender rule which provides that not more than two thirds of any elective or appointive state organ shall belong to the same gender. To evaluate the gender ratio we have establish the size of each organ.

The Executive consists of the President, his/her deputy and the Cabinet Secretaries for the National Level; the Governor, his/her deputy and the executive committee for the county level.

The Legislative consists of the Parliament divided into the National Assembly and the Senate for the National Level while the County Level has the County Assembly.

Consequently, the ballot will consist of a box for the above seats; The President, Governor, Member of National Assembly (MP), Member of Senate (Senator), Member of the County Assembly (MCA) and an additional affirmative seat for women in the National Assembly (Women Rep).

The territory of Kenya is divided into; 47 Counties, 290 Constituencies and 1450 wards. The President exercises authority over the Country while the Governor covers the County. The MP represents the people of his/her Constituency in National Government while the MCA represents the people of his/her Ward in County Government. The Senator represents the Counties and their governments at the National Government while the Women Representatives represent the marginalized groups of their Counties at the National Assembly.

Elections in Kenya are ward-based meaning the ward is the basic unit of registration. Your polling stations will determine the candidates on your ballot based on the location in terms of Ward, Constituency and County. The ballot papers for the presidential race will be the same across the country but you will only cast your vote at the polling station you registered. There are currently 24,599 registration centers as per the IEBC statistics and it remains to be seen whether the number of polling stations will be increased from the 33,000 polling stations in 2013.

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