6 Important Aspects that Characterize Free and Fair Elections

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Free, democratic and fair elections are important principles of that characterize a credible Electoral System. In Article 81, our constitution in discussing representation of the people recognizes these principles mainly because in any democracy, elections are at the core.

In a free and fair election, every person who is of age and willing to vote has the right to register as a voter and vote. It also means that all registered political parties have equal rights to contest in an election. In addition, all votes cast are counted and the results demonstrate the will of the people. Below are 6 important aspects that depict free and fair elections:

  1. Secret ballot

The secrecy of the ballot means that during an election each vote cast remains anonymous and voters mark ballot papers in a private space without attempting to influence each other in terms of who a candidate votes for. This secrecy is critical in countering ill feelings because people do not get to know who voted for who.

  1. Violence and corruption free

For elections to be seen as free and fair, they need to be free of violence, intimidation, improper influence or corruption. There need not be fighting or use of force with the  intention of swaying voters to vote in a certain way. Those involved in the electoral process should also avoid any misconduct that would amount to corruption.

  1. Conducted by an independent body

Elections should be conducted by an independent body for them to be considered free and fair. In Kenya, Chapter 15 of the Constitution of Kenya tasks the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) with the responsibility of conducting elections including referenda, general and by-elections.

  1. Transparent

Transparency is critical in building trust and confidence of stakeholders and the general public that an election process is indeed free and fair. A transparent election is one that is open and can easily be inspected or observed by relevant stakeholders including political parties, observers and even voters. The stakeholders should be able to confidently verify there were no irregularities in the process of conducting elections.

  1. Neutrality

Elections should be conducted in an impartial, neutral, efficient, accurate and accountable way. There should be no bias by the administrators and all aspirants should be treated equally with fairness.

  1. Accuracy

Accuracy should also be observed to ensure tallying of all votes cast is done correctly so that the results are a true reflection the will of the people. Institutions responsible for managing elections need to carry their responsibilities as expected and be accountable to the public for elections to be free and fair.

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14 comments

  1. Paul 12 May, 2017 at 12:30 Reply

    I’m curious about how secrecy of ballot and transparency are guaranteed in an election. Watu hujua nani alipigia nani kura even when voting is done in secret. We hear all sorts of comments after elections huku mtaani.

    • Cynthia 12 May, 2017 at 14:27 Reply

      I think the use of transparent ballot boxes is one of the ways in which transparency is guaranteed during elections coz people can see what is in the box and ensure that hizo boxes ziko empty before voting begins.

      • Paul 17 May, 2017 at 14:49 Reply

        But this is usually interfered with especially jioni kukiwa na giza . In some places, they turn off the lights and use the confusion to stuff more papers in ballot boxes.

    • Florence Maina 18 May, 2017 at 15:14 Reply

      Secrecy is achieved when each voter goes to the voting booth to mark the ballot papers in secret. However, we as voters limit secrecy by telling others who we have voted for.

    • Cynthia 21 May, 2017 at 00:37 Reply

      Very true, I think this article is explaining how things should be. At times, they are not exactly as they should be -like in your case, there maybe shortfalls

  2. Justine 15 May, 2017 at 15:17 Reply

    This is informative but I think we are yet to get to a place where we can say our elections are completely corruption free

  3. Kingori 2 June, 2017 at 08:44 Reply

    Secrecy of ballot is important. The candidates would have liked to know how we vote especially if they give out handouts for them to be voted in

  4. Martin 9 June, 2017 at 17:18 Reply

    I am looking foraward to this election. I am seeing a situation where Kenyans will prove we are on the right tract in terms of democracy

  5. Jeff 9 June, 2017 at 22:41 Reply

    I think we have a competent body. The issues that we hope will be well is the transparency, accuracy and neutrality

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