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Comments from Election Work Evaluation
Notes taken by Kathy Ossmann, AGLI extended service volunteer.

On March 14, 2013, ten days after the Kenyan national elections and four days after the results were announced, leaders of AGLI/FCPT efforts to promote a peaceful election gathered to reflect on the effect of their work. Those efforts included Alternative to Violence (AVP) and Healing and Rebuilding our Community (HROC) workshops, civic education several months prior to the election, citizen reporters and Call-in Center, voter education during the month prior to the voting, election observation, and community interventions when violence occurred during the pre-election period. Here’s some of what they said:

Benson (Tuloi Yearly Meeting): Our work had positive impacts from registration through the election. We played a big role in educating people on the new electoral process. Now people know we exist and have shown interest in our work. The presence of our observers in polling stations made a difference which I could see when I visited several different stations. The unobserved stations tended to be very unorganized. I even received a call from an aspirant complaining about their agent being shut out of the polling station which I reported to the station’s Presiding Officer.

Onjala (Siaya): FCPT and co-facilitators have empowered me to really change my community. I confirmed rumors by calling newspaper reporters I know. I held four voter education sessions during the campaigning. I know this had an impact because people who didn’t attend called me with questions. My voter education target was old mamas and papas. This was effective because the number of spoiled ballots was small. After election results were announced there was no violence. People have been calling me to check on the situation and I tell them to wait and listen.

Caleb (Lugari): I held voter education sessions at several different churches. People found the ballot colors very confusing. Election observing was one hell of a work day. Since some of the election observer badges issued by the IEBC had mistakes, I had to convince the Presiding Officer to let our observers in. I felt initial resistance from the Presiding Officer in the station where I observed but later that diminished. The voting went smoothly. During counting each IEBC staff person slept at some point. The counting ended at 6:00 am. I am still telling people to stay calm. The youth were calm due to education we gave.

Ezra (Lugari): Thank the Lord for peace so far and for FCPT. I organized a voter education session that trained twenty-one youth. This time we saw fewer voters who needed assistance which was evidence that the voter education worked. Our citizen reporting was a good system coordinated with Peter and Dave. We should use it again in the future and make improvements. The PO in the polling station I observed was incompetent and needed more training. Our observers helped the POs. Our community observers helped by watching the area outside the polling station. We have worked with other stakeholders and through churches.
Fred (Friends Theological College): Thanks to FCPT. I held two voter education workshops in my home area. By the end of the sessions the mindset in room really changed to one of more confidence. The participants asked for more. I also held one where I work at Friends Theological College and asked them to communicate the information to their churches. I received good reports from that. I was observing at a polling station from 5:30 am until 3 am the next day.

Getry (Mt. Elgon): FCPT has taken a big step. In 2007 voters on Mt. Elgon hid in woods so they wouldn’t be intimidated while in line. This time lines were full and calm. We achieved a big step that only God can see. I’m a proud citizen to make my country better.

Erastus (Mt. Elgon): We had a large number of election observers and conducted HROC workshops and civic education sessions. I can give thanks because of FCPT. Voter turn-out was high. Some voters didn’t know who to vote for on the governor, senator, and woman MP ballots and wanted someone to tell them. I worked for awhile in one polling station and then traveled around to others. There were no functioning biometric identification machines. Toward the end of voting, fears increased that it might not be safe. Most of our observers went to the constituency tallying center after their polling stations finished counting. We had a block of FCPT observers there, all in our t-shirts. Fears were there as allies of Kapondi (an aspirant) were roaming. The results with multiple parties winning different offices show our education was effective. HROC is now known on the mountain. With it we’ve prepared people for healing. It’s a good tool to be used again. We need to expand to other areas of Mt.. Elgon like Trans Nzoia County. We did eight HROC workshops just before the election. A lot more women attended than in previous workshops which were mostly men. We added some voter education to HROC on the last day.

Grace (Turbo): AVP has changed my community. People realized that they are broken squares. [Reference is to an AVP small group exercise in which each person receives an envelope with pieces of cut-up squares and the group works together silently until each member has made a square and all pieces are used – the trick being that to complete a square the person has to cooperate with others to find the correct pieces.] Their eyes were opened and they took on the act of rebuilding themselves. We also conducted voter education session.
Dave (AGLI Coordinator, Lumakanda): The places where we did a lot of work -- Turbo constituency and Mt. Elgon -- had much higher registration levels than places close-by where we didn’t work. But even more interesting than that, in Turbo Division, home of deputy presidential aspirant Ruto, 1/3 of the votes went to someone other than Ruto even though much fewer than 1/3 of those voters are from other tribes. So that means that Kalenjins in Turbo did not vote based on ethnic blocks, but made independent personal decisions. This could be due to the extensive work we did with youth in the area.

The government did a poor job of voter education so we helped to fill that gap. For the future – every stream of every polling station needs two observers [to trade off with each other in order to stay alert for 22 hours]. That means 120,000 observers. Kenyans have to do this; no international organization is going to have the money for that many people. On Mt. Elgon, the area where we had the most obvious impact, I want to do interviews in the next few weeks to document our effect. And let’s not ignore simple things. For example, in Tuloi we trained pastors in voter education and asked them to train their congregations. That’s a very good model.