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AN EXAMINATION OF THE CAUSES AND PATTERNS OF ELECTORAL OFFENSES IN KENYA

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AN EXAMINATION OF THE CAUSES AND PATTERNS OF ELECTORAL OFFENSES IN KENYA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Elections serve a pivotal role within the realm of politics, although regrettably, they are often marred by incidents of crimes and offenses. They represent the sole legitimate avenue through which individuals can attain positions of political power or leadership, making them indispensable for fostering trustworthy governance in a democratic system. Through the electoral process, the public confers legitimacy upon their chosen leaders, effectively expressing their collective will and sovereignty (D'Angelo, P, 2019). However, election cycles also serve as crucial junctures for citizens to assess the performance of the incumbent political party and establish their expectations for future administrations.

Additionally, democracy's distinct attributes encompass the practice of elections, which provide the government with political legitimacy and enable peaceful transitions in governance. In a pluralistic nation like Kenya, elections are unfortunately prone to hostilities and violence. The act of electing someone to a political office or being elected as an officer in a state system is both a human and political right. According to Covey (2019), elections are often seen as the "silver bullet solution" to civil offenses, frequently signifying the conclusion of a regime's peaceful transition from one period to the next. However, according to Brown (2018), it's important to note that elections alone are often insufficient and cannot be seen as the exclusive catalyst for the transition to democracy.

Election offenses, as outlined in the Elections Act 2011, a legal framework established by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in Kenya, encompassed several violations. These infractions included acts of undue influence, defined as voluntary interference or attempts to interfere with a voter's free exercise of their electoral right to vote during a General Election or By-election. Additionally, bribery, which involved the giving, promising, or offering of money or any other valuable inducement to a voter to corruptly influence their voting behavior or encourage them to abstain from voting, was considered an offense. Other election-related offenses involved the use of force or violence, transgressions connected to the voting process, and the practice of treating, either directly or indirectly providing incentives to voters.

Furthermore, various elements that contribute to electoral offenses encompass ethnic hostilities, tribalism, and clan-based biases, economic hardships, joblessness among the younger population, low levels of education among the electorate, the promotion of division and the use of offensive and derogatory language by political figures, political corruption, and the misuse of drugs.

Similarly, election offenses are increasingly becoming a prevalent aspect of electoral processes worldwide (Fund, 2019). These issues give rise to a multitude of socio-economic and political challenges, emphasizing the need for well-structured and organized approaches. This importance stems from the pivotal role that elections play, if not a central one, in a country's development. This recognition is based on the acknowledgment of the significance of effective political leadership, particularly, and legitimate governance in general, in the comprehensive progress of a nation (Kühne, 2020).

Many nations are actively pursuing reforms within their political and governance systems with the goal of achieving acceptable standards of democracy. In cases where these reforms are disregarded or inadequate, the occurrences of election-related crimes and violations tend to be high, disrupting the regular developmental activities in the country. Some countries have effectively managed their electoral processes (Kadima, 2016), while others continue to grapple with the issue of botched elections marked by disorderly and crime-ridden electoral procedures (Labiste, 2021; Khan, 2019). Therefore, a survey will be conducted in order to examine of the causes and patterns of electoral offenses in Kenya.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Kenya‟s political elections are marred by election crimes and offenses; the factors contributing to election crimes and offenses in Kenya are social, economic and political in nature; election crimes and offenses have serious negative effects on the Kenyan society. However, democracy relies on elections as they facilitate the peaceful transfer of power from one group to another.

Furthermore, technology can aid in communication between individuals and politicians, allowing the public to express their opinions. However, offenses tend to be concentrated around election periods or in extreme cases of electoral fraud aimed at manipulating the election results. Additionally, election-related offenses may encompass the harassment of potential candidates or voters, physical assaults, intimidation of candidates, election personnel, and voters, instances of rioting, property damage, and even political assassinations, among other actions (Höglund, 2019). The occurrence of election-related offenses can lead to voters being hesitant to cast their ballots at polling stations and deter potential candidates from running for office.

Beyond that, electoral offenses pose a significant threat to democracy by undermining trust, curtailing political participation, and disrupting the normal functioning of government and the economy. Additionally, frequent instances of electoral offenses can weaken democratic institutions, making it challenging for politicians to effectively fulfill their roles, which include upholding the rule of law, safeguarding human rights, and maintaining checks and balances.

Furthermore, a contributing factor to the breakdown of electoral systems on a global scale has been linked to the impact of election-related crimes and violations throughout the entire election cycle. This cycle encompasses activities from voter registration to the administration of the elections, extending to events occurring after the declaration of the final election results in both General Elections and By-elections for political positions (IFES, 2017). It is in the light of these that the study seeks to examine the causes and patterns of electoral offenses in Kenya.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is on an examination of the causes and patterns of electoral offenses in Kenya. Specifically, the study will;

  1. Determine the prevalence of electoral offenses in Kenya.

  2. Ascertain the causes of electoral offenses in Kenya.

  3. Identify the patterns of electoral offenses in Kenya.

  4. Determine the impact of electoral offenses on the outcome of 2022 election in Kenya.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study:

  1. What is the extent of electoral offenses in Kenya?

  2. What are the underlying factors contributing to electoral offenses in Kenya?

  3. What recurring trends can be observed in electoral offenses in Kenya?

  4. How have electoral offenses affected the outcome of the 2022 election in Kenya?

1.5 Significant of the Study

This study will contribute to boosting voters confidence. When voters have faith in the integrity of the electoral process, they are more likely to participate, leading to a stronger democracy. Also, it will help policymakers design and implement effective measures to curb electoral offenses, thereby ensuring a more transparent and legitimate electoral process.

Further more, the study will help political parties and politicians in Kenya maintain a positive image on the global stage by demonstrating its commitment to fair and transparent elections.. Additionally, subsequent researchers will use it as a literature review. This means that other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regard to an examination of implications of electoral violence in Kenya.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is boarded on an examination of the causes and patterns of electoral offenses in Kenya. Theoretically, this study will determine the prevalence of electoral offenses in Kenya, ascertain the causes of electoral offenses in Kenya, identify the patterns of electoral offenses in Kenya and determine the impact of electoral offenses on the outcome of 2022 election in Kenya.

Geographically, the study will be delimited to people in Muranga, Kenya

1.7 Limitation of the study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed.

More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other schools, local governments, states, and other countries in the world.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Electoral violence: Laakso (2017) notes that: “electoral violence is an activity motivated by an attempt to affect the results of the elections – either by manipulating the electoral procedures and participation or by contesting the legitimacy of the results”.

Democracy: a system of government in which laws, policies, leadership, and major undertakings of a state or other polity are directly or indirectly decided by the “people.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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  • Methodology: Yes available


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