The polls have opened in Kenya and abroad in a harmonised election for the presidency, members of National Assembly and the Senate. County governors as well as members of the county assemblies and women representatives are also on the ballot.
Over ten thousand Kenyans in the diaspora across 12 countries will have the opportunity to vote in the presidential election; this is an increase from the 2017 election when only eight countries took part.
Meanwhile, voters in Nairobi had formed queues as early as 2am as the general elections got underway, with early indications of high voter turnout even before the polls officially opened at 6am.
More than 22 million people have registered to vote in the 2022 elections in 46,229 polling station. Polling officials demonstrate inclusivity by easing the process for the elderly, disabled as well as nursing and pregnant women.
Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group and former Jamaican Prime Minister, the Honourable Bruce Golding, was among the first observers to witness polls opening at the Jamhuri High School polling station. He said:
“We are here because Kenya is a valued member of our Commonwealth and its democracy means a lot to our family of nations. Our presence here is to remind stakeholders that democracy is a collective effort, and I am fortunate to be a part of this process.
“We urge everyone involved to continue to maintain peace during and after the elections.”
Deputy President Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja Coalition are considered the top two contenders for the presidential ballot.
For the first time in Kenya’s electoral history, there are three women running mates on the presidential ticket, out of the four candidates.
Commonwealth observers have been in Kenya since 16 July and were present in different areas of the country when voting began in the morning and will observe the process until polls close at 5pm. They will then observe the counting of votes and results management processes.
Official results are expected to be released by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) within seven days after election day.
The president and all elective positions are elected to serve a five-year term.
For the presidential ballot, the winner must secure at least 50 per cent of the votes, plus one extra threshold and must secure 25% of votes in at least 24 counties. If no candidate secures such a majority, then the two leading candidates will contest a run-off election within 30 days after the previous election.