Kenyans Flood Polls Despite Election Day Violence

Machete-wielding separatists left at least 13 dead in Kenya as millions of people turned out in historic numbers to cast their votes on March 4, 2013 in one of the most watched general elections in Africa since the country's elections in 2007 ended in ethnic bloodshed.

Sporadic acts of violence marred the otherwise peaceful election, the country's first under its new 2010 constitution. Voters chose candidates for president, members of parliament, county governors, senators, county assembly representatives, and women county representatives.

Official results are expected to be announced by March 11, 2013.

Many were concerned over a possible repeat of the violence that exploded after the 2007 presidential elections. More than 1,100 people were killed and 600,000 were displaced after those disputed election results triggered clashes between tribes.

@Nairoboy shares this photo onf Twitter asking, "If this woman, as old & frail as she is, came out to vote, what's your excuse?" Photo source:   @Nairoboy

@Nairoboy shares this photo on Twitter asking, “If this woman, as old & frail as she is, came out to vote, what's your excuse?” Photo source: @Nairoboy

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders branch in Kenya (@nchrdkenya) reported that armed men were allegedly breaking into homes and stealing IDs during election day 2013 [Global Voices has not confirmed this report]:

@nchrdkenya: Alleged Starehe constituency 50 men armed with “pangas” and 2 pistols are breaking into homes and stealing IDs and phones.#kenyadecides

But despite fears of renewed violence, voters turned out by the millions:

@WanjiruMachari1: #KenyaDecides #Elections2013 some polling stations in #Nakuruare waiting for formality to close. recorded over 80% voter turn-out

Early predictions indicated that the high turnout could shatter the record set with the 2010 constitution referendum, according to National Media Editor Charles Onyango-Obbo (@cobbo3):

@cobbo3: Highest turnout for a vote in Kenya was in 2010 constitution referendum; 72.2%. #KenyaDecides 2013 could hit 80% plus!

Voters, some sick, walked many miles to exercise their democratic right:

@SEREKII: Never seen this determination to vote in Coast! My aunt who is ailing from mild stroke walked 2kms to vote#kenyadecides

@wndiwa: Morans walked 100km to vote in wamba #KenyaDecides

@MoritzCOTR: Amazingly, most Kenyans stood in queues for up to 10 hours without killing each other #Shocked … #kenyadecides

Long queues were reported in many polling stations with some voters having to wait for hours before casting their votes. One woman went into labour before casting her vote:

@Toili12: A woman goes into labour in a voting queue at Kariobangi South Primary polling center before casting her vote #KenyaDecides

@nochiel: Voting was protracted, tedious, and exhausting. Also, most of us waited 5 hours to get to the booth. #KenyaDecides

@Da_Dunx_Mugi: If it has taken 90mins for me to take 15 steps, how long will it take me to take another 500-600 steps?! #KenyaDecides

@japho1: I have never been on queue for this long since I started voting way back in 2002.#KenyaDecides

However, some voters such as Harry Karanja (@startupkenya) spent no time at all in a queue:

@startupkenya: Thanks all for voting early, because of you I've just spent a total of 0 minutes queuing #KenyaDecides

Njambi Kiburio (@NjambiII) remained optimistic about the elections:

@NjambiII: @cnnbrk [CNN Breaking News] Kenya has news for you. May you hunger for sad news, and find none here. #KenyaDecides

Some netizens argued that foreign media outlets only focused on bad news. Twitter user @Owitie wrote that Kenyans can report their own stories:

@Owitie: Those few mzungus [white people] aka wabeberu [imperialists] need to realize that as#KenyaDecides we can report our own news and tell our stories.

Small business owner Ian Cox (@IanECox) pondered the possibility of Uhuru Kenyatta, who is facing charges at the international criminal court following the 2007 post-election violence, winning the presidential election:

@IanECox: I wonder how the international press will react if #kenyadecides to elect Uhuru.. those dumb Kenyans.. etc etc

Some praised the performance of Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. Entertainer Kabochi Gakau (@Kaytrixx) noted that the commission is better organised than the 2007 elections:

@Kaytrixx: I must say though, IEBC is pretty organised, much better than the last election. Transparent. #Peace254 #KenyaDecides

@thisiskenyan: 18 more people then I get my turn… these iebc guys are on turbo mode kudos! #Kenyadecides #mugugagreenedition

@Olashmartine: 10hrs 7 mins to vote! well done IEBC you've outdone yourself #kenyadecides #KEpolls2013

Others had a humorous take on the elections:

@keruanna: And a bird just shitted on me. Next time I'll pick a polling station without trees #Kenyadecides

@dnahinga: I think they should extend the time for opening bars also.#KenyaKwanza We don't want to tempt those still queing#KenyaDecides

@mwamishitemi: i can confirm that the ‘middle class’ did indeed vote. those on twitter polling station, you have 15 minutes… #kenyadecides

@FelixDonBash: I think today breaks the record for most twitpics of fingers#KenyaDecides

@ngatia_sammy: Samburu morans [Samburu Maasai warriors] trekked 104 km to a polling station ,they demanded to be given 1st priority so that they could go back to graze #kenyadecides

Finally, friends of Kenya sent love and good wishes on Twitter:

@tmsruge: Sending some mad love to Kenya right now. Showing WHOLE world how participatory democracy is done. Go big brother, go!!

@RDustinLong: Good luck to all my Kenyan friends today with their Presidential election. #kenyadecides



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