This is how we can make elections in Kenya better

The recent controversial presidential elections in the US in which the unapologetic racist and misogynistic Donald Trump won despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by a huge margin will definitely go into history one of the most shocking election results in modern America history.

However, the Senate elections in the State of California were also historic as it saw California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris become only the second black woman elected to the US Senate.

Harris – who was born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father – also became the first black politician in history to represent the State in the senate.

It is the election process in California that is interesting and worthy of copying and pasting here in Kenya. Harris defeated fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez in the race that was the first major test of California’s ‘top-two’ primary system, an experiment in democracy that California voters approved in 2010 in an effort to reduce the highly partisan influence of the Democratic and Republican parties and give independents and moderates more clout in the political process.

Under the California’s non-partisan blanket primary law, all candidates appear on the same ballot, regardless of party. In the primary, voters may vote for any candidate, regardless of their party affiliation.

In the California system, the top two finishers – regardless of party – advance to the General Election in November, even if a candidate manages to receive a majority of the votes cast in the primary election.

After incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer decided to not run for re-election to a fifth term in office, Harris and Sanchez, both Democrats, finished in first and second place, respectively, and contested the General Election.

The highest Republican finisher in the primary won only 7.8 percent of the vote; this marked the first time since direct elections to the Senate began after the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913 that a Republican did not appear on the General Election ballot for the US Senate in California.

In the General Election, Harris defeated Sanchez in a landslide, carrying all but two counties.

A variation of this innovative election is worthy of emulation here in Kenya. It would do away with the shambolic party nominations and also ensure the best candidate is elected.

The key amendment is to allow political parties the discretion to field more than one candidate for the same seat in their strongholds. If implemented, it will save candidates from the chaos and violence that are characteristic of party primaries in Kenya.
For example, In Muranga County where Jubilee Party is unchallenged, there is no need of holding nominations for Governor, Senator, Woman Representative, MP or even MCA.

Since virtually all aspirants for all seats in the county belong to the Jubilee Party, let them go straight to the main ballot conducted by IEBC.

There is no risk of the party losing any seat since all the aspirants belong to Jubilee anyway.

Likewise, in Siaya County where Raila Odinga’s ODM rules the roost, there would be no need of taking Cornel Rasanga, James Orengo, Carey Orege, Nicholas Gumbo and William Oduol through an arduous, expensive, violent and potential divisive nomination exercise to pick a candidate who will then have no credible challenger during the August General Election.

What if the law allowed for a party to sponsor more than one candidate for a seat? ODM would then sponsor Rasanga, Orengo, Orege, Gumbo and Oduol to square it off at the IEBC conducted elections, which have better turnout, more peaceful and more organised, and also less prone to manipulation and rigging.

Jubilee and ODM and other parties would hold nominations and field single candidates in battle grounds like Nairobi, Narok or Kajiado counties.

(Okinyi comments on political issues)

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