The issues of 300,000 so-called “spoiled” ballots is becoming a central question in Kenya’s contentious national elections. These are ballots that for some reason or another were tossed out. Now, the process by which these ballots are counted–or not–could be hugely consequential to the outcome of this election.

So far, Uhuru Kenyatta is holding a small but steady lead over Raila Odinga. Election rules put into place after the 2007/8 election violence stipulates that a run-off is required should no single candidate receive more than 50% of the vote. If those spoiled ballots are counted, it would be virtually impossible for Kenyatta to exceed that 50% threshold. If those ballots are counted, then a run-0ff would probably be necessary.

A run-off could be particularly tough for Kenyatta, since it would happen just months before his scheduled appearance at the International Criminal Court where he faces charges for...orchestrating violence when an election tally did not go his way.

Needless to say, this is a rather perilous moment.

Image courtesy of Mike Hills

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