Let's interrogate the presidential vote result, and the process

Presidential ballot paper. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Who needs term limits? Kenyans just evicted 211 of our 384 elected legislators from office; 146 out of 290 MPs, 34 of 47 Women Reps and 31 of 47 Senators. Meanwhile, the true place and space for women in our elected leadership is growing impressively; think seven of 47 governors for the next five years; almost 30 in our single-member constituencies, and three in our Senate.

Although the list of governors gazetted to be sworn in next week is at 26 out of 47, there is real optimism as we embark on devolution's third stanza. Indeed, we can safely assume the voting tsunami that decimated parliament was multiplied several times over in our county assemblies. All of this is an unheralded part of Kenya's election that hasn't yet made headlines.

But let's not be too harsh. After all, there was the simple, routine matter of the presidential election result announcement. Except that nothing presidential in Kenya is simple or routine. Hence our dramatic week. Hours of waiting sprinkled with songs and fisticuffs. One IEBC announcement disowning the results; another announcing them.

In short order, William Ruto was declared President-Elect, Raila Odinga said No, a divided IEBC exchanged unpleasantries and then four petitions in the Supreme Court (SCORK). KoT has been on absolute fire.

A popular post suggests that we were political analysts during election week, mathematicians last week and lawyers this week. Let's develop this thought. Not on 0.01 per cent or arguments before SCORK. Instead, two angles to the presidential vote result; "top-down" and "bottom-up".

The "top-down" way to look at the presidential election is to explore the data in the results. Fortunately, IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati provided a signed three-page statement, so we analyse this because we have no alternative data or facts.

The results put Dr Ruto at 7,176,141 votes (50.49 per cent) against Mr Odinga's 6,942,930 votes (48.85 per cent) with a balance of 93,956 votes shared between Messrs Mwaure and Wajackoyah to give a corrected total of 14,213,027 votes.

Corrected because the statement's total of 14,213,137 votes includes a minor error of 110 votes accounted for by mis-cast county totals for West Pokot (173,705 instead of 173,605 votes) and Kilifi (285,496 instead of 285,486 votes). We know there were 113,614 rejected ballots - so a total of 14,326,641 votes were cast - basically, a reject rate of about one in every 126 ballots.

Here is some data to quietly contemplate, ignoring the 10,000-plus diaspora vote that went Mr Odinga's way on a 12:7 split.

As required by the constitution, Dr Ruto attained at least 25 per cent of the vote in 39 out of 47 counties, while Mr Odinga achieved this benchmark in 34. At a plus-50 per cent level, Mr Odinga "won" 27 counties against Dr Ruto's 20. Simply, the breadth of Mr Odinga's vote contrasts with the depth of Dr Ruto's. But we are not analyzing strategy here, just the numbers.

Let's apply "20-20 hindsight". We will use the term "universe" to denote actual counties in which each candidate won a majority vote (27 vs 20), and round numbers up or down. Of 22.1 million votes, Mr Odinga's universe was 13.3 million votes, while Dr Ruto's was 8.8 million.

On actual votes cast, these universes shrank to 8 and 6.2 million votes respectively (total 14.2 million votes). It is important to understand that universes here do not refer to strongholds or battlegrounds.

Now, here's what to observe. Mr Odinga won 71 per cent of the votes in his universe (5.6 million) with 29 per cent going to Dr Ruto (2.3 million).

On the flip side, Dr Ruto won 78 per cent in his universe (4.8 million) with 21 per cent (1.3 million) to Mr Odinga (and 0.1 million to others). That's roughly how we get to their totals. Voter turnout was a key difference between these universes - averaging 59.7 per cent across Mr Odinga's universe against 71.2 per cent in Dr Ruto's. Recall that overall voter turnout came in at 64.3 per cent.

Here is an added word on turnout. Across Mr Odinga's universe, eight of the 27 counties he won had turnouts below 60 per cent, and four exceeded 70 per cent. In Dr Ruto's universe, there was no turnout below 60 per cent across the 20 counties he won, while it exceeded 70 per cent in eight counties. I emphasize again that this is not an analysis of strategy or tactics but an initial dive into the official data.

Above counties, we can split Kenya into the old provinces or the regions favoured by pollsters. Of the old provinces, Mr Odinga "won" five out of eight, with Dr Ruto prevailing in old Central, Eastern and Rift. Looking at nine regions (Coast, Lower Eastern, Mt Kenya, North Rift, South Rift, Northern, Nyanza, Western and Nairobi), it is 6:3 in favour of Mr Odinga. Beyond numbers, turnout matters too; 61 per cent vs 69 per cent before we get to the relatively deeper inroads Dr Ruto made into competitor territory. Again, the data suggests that "going deep" trumped "going wide".

Here is a final picture to ponder. Roughly, where did every 100 of either candidate's votes come from? For Mr Odinga, 27 out of 100 came from Nyanza, 14 from Western, 12 from Mt Kenya, 11 each from Lower Eastern and Nairobi, 10 from Coast, 8 from Northern, 5 from South Rift and 2 from North Rift. For Dr Ruto, 41 out of 100 came from Mt Kenya, 13 and 12 from South and North Rift, 9 from Western, 8 from Nairobi, 5 each from Northern and Coast, 4 from Nyanza and 3 from Lower Eastern. That's the big picture that the official data presents to us. Think about it.

This view asks if the "macro-data" reflects the election's "micro-reality". Let's take this further.

We also have the "bottom-up" way.

Ideally, this goes back to source data, from polling station to constituency, county or national tallying centre. Or as a colleague succinctly puts it "from the voter to the vote to the announcement".

This is impractical in an article of this space, so we adopt the "voter-centric" process view favoured by this column. The task here is to explore the processes that led to the results; basically questions before answers. We start at the beginning.

To repeat, voting starts with identification as a Kenyan. The National Registration Bureau says we have 29.6 million IDs in circulation; Kenya National Bureau of Statistics says we are roughly 27.8 million adults. We know that many IDs are in disuse, while many adults are not registered. So the first question asks about efforts to establish a voter base through seamless identification.

As we did last week, we move to voter registration. At 22.1 million registered voters, why do we fall short of supporting citizens in securing their voting franchise? Let's call these first two questions the working baselines for an inclusive election from a citizen participation perspective.

Another important question to be answered here is the state of the voter register. By all accounts, we had 22.1 million registered voters, the register was audited and discrepancies identified, yet we still ended up with 22.1 million registered voters. What happened to audit findings on deceased voters, duplicate records and invalid registrations, which added up to at least one million records to be fixed in the final register? Simply, how clean was the voter register?

Now we get into the meat of things; voting, counting, tallying and results. Here is where the questions flow freely. Is there a full and ready accounting for the 132 million high-security ballot papers that were printed? What data is available for audit from the 55,100 KIEMS kits that were distributed to our 46,229 polling stations? Can all 14 million plus biometric registrations be matched with the quantum of ballot paper issues in a way that explains how many voted for which electoral position? Same question for the Form 32s to account for all manual voting.

Stepping forward into results, what do the numbers in the A series of forms - from 34 to 39 - tell us about the claimed unusual voting patterns in which not everybody voted for everyone? Cross-tabulations here, anyone? What of the flow of this A series of documents to the respective B, C and D series, not simply for Form 34 for the presidency, but corresponding forms for MP, MCA, Governor, Senator and Woman Reps? Is a process assessment complete without a cyber audit of data/document flows from stations to central servers to tallying centres and the public portal?

That's before the physicality of party agent difficulties and ballot paper shenanigans. This process view is not pretty, but it helps us reflect on the election in a different way. It might get us to understand the inputs to the results. Or it might not. Mostly, what we have are two reflections - "top-down" and "bottom-up". But, as I said, this is not about certain court cases at SCORK.

Kabaara is a management consultant.