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How to Mark a Ballot Paper in Kenya

It is important to know how to mark a ballot paper in Kenya in any election. This ensures that the voter does not make any mistake in the voting booth by voting for the wrong candidate. It also ensures the ballot does not become a spoilt vote.

There are different types of elections in Kenya which allow the citizens to choose their representatives. The candidates that Kenyans can vote for are:

  • the President and Deputy President (on a joint ticket)
  • Members of the National Assembly (that represent the Constituencies),
  • Members of the Senate (that represent the County),
  • Women County Representatives (also known as Women Representatives),
  • the County Governor and Deputy County Governor (on a joint ticket) and
  • the Members of the County Assembly (also known as Ward Representatives that represent a County Ward).

The ballot paper is an official electoral paper containing the symbols of parties and names of candidates vying for any given elective position. A ballot paper should have the following features:

  • a serial number;
  • names of candidates;
  • political Party symbols;
  • a marking space;
  • images of the candidates;
  • instructions to the voter;
  • security features.

How to mark a ballot paper in Kenya

During the general elections that take place every five years, the voters vote for all six candidates. Therefore, knowing how to fill out a ballot paper is important for this exercise and the other elections. (Read more about the voting process in Kenya)

The voter should:

  • mark in the space that corresponds to the:
    • name, portrait, and symbol of the Political Party candidate (if voting for a candidate belonging to a political party);
    • name and portrait of an independent candidate (if voting for an independent candidate who does not belong to any party);
  • make only one mark on a ballot paper within the space provided for marking.
  • only two symbols are allowed for marking the ballot box. Either a tick () or a cross () against the name (or nickname) and (party) symbol of a preferred candidate.

The features of a correctly marked ballot paper are as follows:

  • the ballot paper should have a mark against only one candidate;
  • the mark should be within the space provided for marking;
  • the ballot paper must be stamped at the back with the official Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) stamp.

The voter should ensure they do not use any mark that may reveal their identity.

The ballot papers must be cast in the correct box by matching the colours of the ballot paper with that of the lid of the respective ballot boxes:

  • the Presidential ballot and lid of their ballot box is white;
  • the Governor’s ballot and the lid of their ballot box is blue;
  • the Senator’s ballot and the lid of their ballot box is yellow;
  • the County Assembly Ward ballot (for Ward Representatives) and the lid of their ballot box is beige;
  • the Parliamentary ballot (for members representing the Constituencies) and the lid for their ballot box is green;
  • the County Woman Representative’s ballot and the lid of their ballot box is Purple;

Here is an infographic by IEBC showing how to mark a ballot paper.

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Gĩthĩnji is the founder of He is passionate about politics and governance, public finance management and cycling.@Afrophi