IPO’s, Election Day, and Christmas shopping

It’s been a very tiring day, after spending seven hours waiting to vote. Still, if I’m willing to buy shares in a crummy IPO, I should be equally tolerant of a election day that occurs every five years.

The week also included Christmas shopping and could also have included the Safaricom IPO before it was wisely put aside till mid 2008.

mini comparison

personal touch: While IPO’s have arrangements for high-net worth and corporate investor that shield them from the crowds (place orders over the phone, and wire money after the IPO), Christmas shopping and elections are a duty that most people have to perform in person.

For elections, you must present your identification documents in person, and for Christmas shopping, a gift is as unique as the buyer perceives the recipient will appreciate what they have chosen. So in the voting queue or at Nakumatt on the 24th or 25th on December you’re likely to meet many freinds & colleagues, or interact with a well known personality or two such as the head of the Nairobi stock exchange and a presidential candidate. It was also very touching to encounter the president daughter shopping in Nakumatt – picking out gifts, pushing a basket and queuing alone, so different from the high security entourages and preferential treatment that surrounds her folks.

Logistics: Shopping wins, IPO’s second, while voting is a distant third. The electoral commission reliance on manual registers to search for voters was time consuming (see my 7 hours). This was after as a previous voter, who had verified using their online system, should have been straight forward. There was a lot more confusion with the electoral commission of Kenya station than the last time round – and even worse in parts of Langata where a leading presidential candidates name was missing from the register (others will see it as sabotage).

Early bird: It’s good to be early with Christmas shopping as you can make careful decisions, shop for bargains, and a have a variety of goods to choose from that are often sold out by the time us late shoppers arrive. But with IPO’s and elections, often the right decision is to wait until the middle (end of first week for IPO, or noon of election day) after the anxious early-bird crowds have been sevred and disappeared. E.g. While i spent 7 hours voting, some people queued for 20 min tops in the afternoon

Some other elections observations:
– Party observers, who were only keen to help their party members. They increased the workload of ECK official who should instead be tending to voter individual queries and problems
– ECK officials arguing in public with each other. It’s understandable given the stress they are under to cope today, but bad for the image.
– The Langata snafu
– Self policing in the lines, in the absence of police or NYS officers who were absent from the poll station
– met my candidate almost alone in the queue, and later saw his big party rival who had a dozen strong media and security entourage
– EU observers walking around, but not talking /interacting/understanding voters in the queue unless there was the possibility of some violence

Summary: all in all, a tough week, with a lot of time and effort required. The Safricom IPO was taken out of the picture which was a big relief to the other two events.