In Kenya, election crimes are defined as crimes that are committed during the period of a general election or a by election. The crimes committed have to be directly related to that particular election to be considered as election crimes and are punishable under the Penal Code of the Laws of Kenya. Examples of election crimes can voter bribery, rigging of elections,kidnapping of political aspirants to lock them out of running for office and clashes between supporters.
Kenya has had its share of election crimes, with cases that date back to 1992 when candidates were intimidated into supporting the then ruling party, KANU. The 1997 and 2002 general elections were marred with ethnic clashes in mostly Coast and Rift Valley provinces. The worst case of election violence was witnessed in 2007-2008 after the 2007 general elections. Over 1,300 Kenyans were killed and 650,000 were displaced from their homes.
The most prevelant of election crimes and offences were; bribery (40.6%), voter and ballot fraud (16.6%), hate speech (15.4%) and fighting after election results (11.8%).
The report also showed that the biggest perpetrators of election crimes and offences were political aspirants at 45.7% followed by unemployed youth (28.0%), party agents and officials (13.5%).
The biggest factor encouraging the occurrence of election crimes and offences was tribalism (27.6%). Poverty and unemployment among the youth also played a key role at 26.4% and 20.4% respectively. These two factors made voters vulnerable to bribes and cash handouts given out to influence their decisions at the ballot. Illiteracy of the electorate (18.4%) contributes to election crimes. Their inability to read and write has been misused by election officials to misdirect voters into choosing candidates who aren’t their choice.
According to the report, the major effects of election crimes and offences were destruction of life and property, ethnic tension and animosty, displacement of the population and poor governance due to wrong leaders being elected.
Some of the solutions put forward were proper civic and voter education. Voters should be educated on what constitutes good leadership, this steers them away from voting along ethnic lines. Economic empowerment of the youth would also make them less vulnerable to voter bribery. A credible election body would reduce incidences of fighting after an election as the results would be more readily accepted. It would also increase voter turn out of the people believe that the election is free and fair.