A round-the-clock vigil at the official tallying station, spot checks on the vote count at local polling centers and an encounter with a 102-year-old woman who stood in a queue overnight to be the first in line to cast her ballot all formed part of Reuters’ reporting on Kenya’s disputed election in August. As Kenya geared up for its historic election, the Reuters team in Nairobi devised a comprehensive strategy to provide fast and accurate election coverage. Our journalists who had been schooled by contested elections in 2007 and 2013 were keenly aware that the Aug. 8 election would play out against a backdrop of potential violence and allegations of fraud. “Kenya has a history of heavily problematic elections,” says Nairobi bureau chief Katharine Houreld. “So every Kenyan wanted to understand the electoral process. Everybody needed to know how exactly it was going to work – because that meant the difference between safety and needing to flee for your life.”
Reuters reporters spent hours talking to the election board ahead of time to understand how the electronic vote tallying system worked and attended a simulation exercise that was supposed to demonstrate that the machines could be relied on produce accurate vote results.
That test session tipped media off to potential problems ahead: all candidates were supposed to receive the same number of votes when four machines transmitted results. But the totals varied slightly, which the election board blamed on “typos” in the tally sheets that were fed. This suggested that there could be errors in the vote count.
Full Article: Chaos and glitches: Covering Kenya’s disputed election.