From the New York Times, Jeffery Gettleman reports on the voting.
Voters turned out in droves on Wednesday, and the turnout was expected to be high. But the vote was shadowed by memories of the disputed 2007 election, which set off ethnically fueled clashes across the country that left more than 1,000 people dead.
To prevent any sort of repeat, the Kenyan government overhauled the entire election process — not just registration, but also how the lines at polling stations would work and how ballot results would be transmitted (by cellphone and computer), how votes would be tallied and how voters would be protected. Thousands of police officers have been sent to keep order in rural areas.
At the Baba Dogo primary school here, calm prevailed. Beginning at 6 a.m., before the equatorial sun had cleared the horizon, voters gathered in orderly lines marked off by twine. No one was shouting, cheering or gloating about how they were going to vote. Street vendors had not preventively cleared out, as they often do during elections, fearing trouble, and instead were enjoying a brisk trade selling bananas, peanuts and Fantas to voters streaming out of the polls.
It was an atmosphere, people said, totally different from the election in 2007.
“It’s peaceful,” said Samson Omondi, a college student. “We’ve learned from last time.”
But the goal is far more than a clean vote without a violent aftermath. If the new constitution passes, it will curtail the powers of an imperial-style presidency, pave the way for much-needed land reform and give Kenyans a bill of rights, a combination that could spell the beginning of the end of one of the most corrupt, deeply entrenched political systems on the African continent.