Raila Odinga and William Ruto in tight presidential race

An election official showed reporters what the presidential ballot looked like on Monday

Kenyans will choose their next president after a bitter campaign dominated by debates over the cost of living, unemployment and corruption.

Outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is serving two constitutionally mandated terms, has backed one-time foe Raila Odinga, 77, to succeed him.

His decision came after a dispute with 55-year-old Vice President William Ruto, who was expected to be supported.

More than 22 million Kenyans are registered to vote.

Several other elections were held at the same time, with mixed votes in some areas, renewing questions about the organization of the general election.

Voting will be open for 11 hours from 06:00 local time (03:00 GMT). Anyone still in line by the deadline will be allowed to vote.

The results of the last presidential election in 2017 were quashed after the Supreme Court ruled that the electoral commission failed to comply with the law when it transferred ballots electronically from polling stations.

The judge ruled that “unlawful and irregular conduct” had occurred.

Mr Kenyatta won the rematch but was boycotted by then-main opposition candidate Mr Odinga.

Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the electoral commission, who is also in charge of the 2017 vote, has often tried to reassure Kenyans that his team will be up to the task this time around.

But logistical problems on Monday added to the pressure.

baby v liar

The election looks set to be a close race between frontrunners Mr Odinga and Mr Ruto.

Mr Odinga – a long-serving opposition leader, nicknamed Baba (“father”) by his supporters, is running for president for the fifth time. Mr Ruto, who will try to underline his ties to ordinary Kenyans by calling himself a “liar”, will take the presidency for the first time.

Two other candidates – David Mwaure and George Wajackoya – are also in the running.

Racial allegiances may also play a role in determining how people vote, although the campaign is dominated by issues.

For the first time in the multiparty era, none of the leading candidates are from the country’s largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu.

But knowing those votes were crucial, both chose Kikuyu running mates.

voting process

To win the first round of the presidential race, candidates need to:

Voters will also choose MPs and senators to the National Assembly, county governors and county councillors, and 47 women’s representatives to the National Assembly.

On Election Day, voters will have their fingerprints scanned to check their identity, but printed registers are also available if the machine fails.

Each voter will then receive a colored ballot for each election, which they will mark at a private booth and drop into the relevant ballot box.

Polling stations will begin counting votes shortly after voting closes. Officials will then take photos of the final count and send the images to precincts and the National Counting Center.

To ensure transparency, the media, political parties and civil society groups have been urged to conduct their own counts using the final results published by more than 40,000 polling stations.

But only the electoral commission can declare the winner of the presidential election after verifying the physical and digital forms sent to the National Counting Center.

Leading presidential candidates have vowed to respect the election results.

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