For democracy to thrive, a vote audit must reveal 'true' winner

The presidential vote demands a process of utmost transparency. [iStockphoto]

With keen interest, I learned of the impending opening of the servers to determine the true winner of the 2022 presidential vote.

The decision by the National Dialogue Committee to unveil the servers appears to be motivated by the necessity to ascertain the authentic winner, leaving no room for any other logical explanation. In simpler terms, the certainty of the 2022 presidential election outcome remains uncertain.

The persistent call for server transparency ensued in the aftermath of contested presidential election results. Even the pronouncements from the Supreme Court failed to pacify the doubts harboured by Kenyans who perceived denial of justice. The resolution to audit the servers is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, contingent on its foundation in principles of justice.

However, there exists a risk of further eroding the already fragile faith of those who still find value in the act of voting if the server's opening leads to predetermined conclusions. Beyond being an imprudent utilisation of public time and resources, such an endeavour could be construed as an attempt to deceive the public, constituting morally unacceptable political behaviour.

This column has consistently underscored the importance of meticulous vote counting to mitigate the perennial chaotic disputes surrounding presidential outcomes. The electoral process, at first seemingly systematic, often devolves into chaos as returning officers vanish, media result releases stall and suspicious scenes unfold at Bomas. By the time results are declared, parts of the country are frequently marked by heightened security contingents.

The difficulty of accepting defeat is one facet of the story and only a partial truth at that. The events surrounding presidential election results, including international influences on the preferred candidate, cast substantial doubt on the fairness and credibility of the electoral process. Excuses such as "the race was so close" used to tamper with the process or justify illegalities only serve to exacerbate the wounds in our electoral process.

The presidency in Kenya holds immense significance. While theoretically, the judiciary and legislature act as checks on executive excesses, in reality, the presidency often establishes its own power dynamics.

Appointments to senior government offices disproportionately favour certain communities, fostering an environment where the government's purported equal treatment of all citizens becomes a mere façade. The presidency, instead of being the unifying force, becomes a source of division.

The presidential vote, as a national symbol, demands a process of utmost transparency. It is critical that the procedure is beyond reproach, providing legitimacy and legal authority to the elected individual.

The perception of sneaking into the office undermines the dignity befitting the office. In a transparent, fair, and credible process, Kenyans are discerning enough to distinguish what is above board from what raises suspicions.

The decision by the National Dialogue Committee to initiate an audit of the 2022 presidential vote reflects a strategic move to underscore the transparency of the electoral process.

The pain and anger that have characterised the announcement of results in the past five presidential elections could have been mitigated through a more transparent process. Sanitising any form of illegalities would only erode voter trust in crucial institutions like the National Dialogue Committee, established to address national crises.

For democracy to thrive, the server audit must unequivocally reveal the true winner of the 2022 presidential election, regardless of the potential repercussions. Any other outcome risks misplacing the wisdom that led to this decision.

The writer is the Executive Director at Loyola Centre for Media and Communication