The Ballot Mightier Than The Bullet

The Ballot Mightier Than The Bullet

“The ballot is stronger than the bullet” Abraham Lincoln once said. The true measure of democracy is the exercise of the voting power where every single individual is given a chance to participate in an election that is guaranteed to be free, fair and credible. The real democracies in the World have prided themselves in holding an election that is free of any irregularities and for that to happen then Countries need to be focused more on the process rather than the outcome. If the process is fair then there is an assurance that the outcome will be one that will be accepted by all quarters and that is the true measure of democratic maturity. Elections belong to the voters and it is their decision to select whoever they want and as they say “A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”

Sericho Secondary Case Study

Sericho Secondary School a mixed day secondary school in the outskirts of Isiolo has made headlines by being the first ever Secondary School in Northern Kenya to hold a successful Students Council Election in a process that was devoid of any malpractice. The process began with the formation of an Election Steering Committee that included three teachers from the Guidance and Counseling department. The teachers were tasked with coming up with a calendar of the whole election process including qualifications for the candidates, procedure for nominations, election day plan, orientation of the elected leaders and finally swearing in procedure. “This Committee was responsible for ensuring the most suitable candidates are nominated to contest and the elections are conducted within the highest standards possible so as to ensure the credibility of the whole process.” The head of Guidance and Counseling Mr. Nyatwanga reiterated.

Nominations and Campaigns

The slots for the vacant positions were advertised and the qualifications for each slot stated clearly to ensure that only the qualified candidates apply. The successful candidates were then called for an interview which was chaired by Mr. Christopher and they were given a chance to respond to questions. Mr. Christopher told NFD Dispatch that the panel was keen on good communication skills, leadership qualities as well as knowledge on the role of the Students Council at large. The final nominees list was then released and each candidate briefed on the whole campaign procedure including the dos and don’ts, the campaign time, and campaign materials.

The candidates were not allowed to campaign within class hours and the official language of campaign was English and Kiswahili. There were NO Campaigns outside the school compound since the elections was for School’s Student Council. The morning of Election Day was reserved for each contestant to give a speech in the assembly and sell their manifesto to the other students. The aspirants took over the assembly selling their agendas with so much passion and zeal as they sought to convince the voters for the last time. The campaigning period was then officially closed and any aspirant seen to be campaigning would face immediate disqualification.

The Voting

The voting was secret ballot and it took a record 2hours for the voting to be completed and results announced. The class registers were used as the voter register and each class acted as the polling station. Those who voted were marked as present ensuring that there were no cases of double voting. Four parents were invited to act as observers and there were 3 agents allowed inside the polling station. The voting process was peaceful and there were no cases of voter bribing. The students were not allowed anywhere near the voting area while voting was ongoing and even during the counting process.

Counting was done in front of the observers and the agents. The vote count was conducted at a very slow pace to ensure that all the agents were satisfied with the final tally. The results were then tallied and after confirmation by all the relevant parties the result was then ready to be released to the whole school.

Announcement of Result

The process of announcement was brief and was done in the full glare of all the students. The contestants were asked to stand in front of the school as the results were announced. “In any democracy we must have a winner and a loser. The voting and counting process has been finalized and it’s now time to announce the result but the most important thing is the fact that all of you are winners.” The Deputy Principal Mr. Abdi insisted as he released the final tally.

Finally,

The losers were asked to shake hands with those who won as a show of acceptance as the whole school cheered on. The feeling was mutual and all the losers felt a sigh of relief knowing that elections must not be a matter of life and death. In the afternoon normal classes resumed as teachers continued with their lessons.

“The goal of this election was to let these young minds appreciate the role and importance of democracy. The idea is to prepare them for the future by inculcating in them that elections are just a once in a lifetime event and people need not to take it so seriously. In the wake of 2017 elections ours has proved that it’s possible to have normal life after an election”. Mr. Huka the Principal of the school remarked. The process without any iota of a doubt was free, fair and credible.

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