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Understanding what the ‘50% Plus 1 Vote’ rule means in presidential elections



By Judith Gicobi

Kenyans continue to be apprehensive about who will be elected as the 5th President and successor of President Uhuru Kenyatta as the counting process draws to a close.

According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the 50 plus 1 vote rule, whose exact meaning has not been clarified, is one of the elements that will be taken into account in deciding the victor.

Does this suggest that one must garn 50% of the votes plus 1%, or is it actually only one vote?

Simply put, the requirement states that the presidential winner must have received 50% of the total votes plus one additional vote.

The Kenyan Constitution’s Article 138 (4), states that “A candidate shall be declared elected as President if the candidate receives– (a) more than half of all the votes cast in the election,” reads part of subsection 4.

The candidate must also have won by a margin of at least 25% in the majority of the counties in the nation. “…at least twenty-five per cent of the votes cast in each of more than half of the counties,” reads part (b) of subsection 4.

What follows if the candidate falls short of the requirement?

A run-off (re-run) presidential election should be held within 30 days after the first election if none of the contenders achieve the necessary 50% plus one vote.

“If no candidate is elected, a fresh election shall be held within thirty days after the previous election and in that fresh election the only candidates shall be– (a) the candidate, or the candidates, who received the greatest number of votes; and (b) the candidate, or the candidates, who received the second greatest number of votes,” reads sub-section 5.

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