IEBC appeals for more Kenyans to register to vote

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By BRIAN MOSETI
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The electoral agency has appealed for more Kenyans to turn out and register to vote, even as it outlined plans to make sure every eligible person, including those affected by drought, is reached.

This is in an effort to ensure that the commission’s target of upper limit six million voters and lower four million is achieved.

But figures released by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati on Tuesday show the commission has only managed to register 1,539,879 Kenyans by the second week of registration.

In the first week, only 825,145 new voters were registered against a weekly target of 1.4 million new listings. This shows that in the second week, only 714, 734 were registered, meaning the targets are not being met.

In a bid to improve the situation, the commission will provide mobile coverage in drought-hit regions and Biometric Voter Registration kits will be moved from place to place, but only within a constituency, to ensure everyone is reached.

“The commission resolved to allow registration officers in the affected counties to provide services within the electoral areas where potential voters could be settling at the moment.” said Mr Chebukati.

Prisoners will also get to vote and prison centres will be recognised as polling centres. But there is a caveat for this provision in that the inmates will only vote for presidential candidates. Registration of prisoners will begin on February 20 to 27.

Registration in colleges, universities and other institutions will begin on February 8 to 17. However, should universities be closed as might happen following the lecturers’ strike, the commission said there will be no need for registration centres as the applicants will register at home.

But even as IEBC targets more numbers, it has emerged that some counties affected by drought are performing better than their counterparts.

“We are concerned that some counties with highest potential voting population of 100,000 and above are below 20 per cent of their total targets,” Mr Chebukati said. The counties include Vihiga, Nyeri, Kisii, Kericho, Kakamega, Bungoma, Siaya, and Kitui.

The top 10 leading counties in terms of registration per target include Kajiado, Mandera, Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Muranga, Narok, Nakuru Wajir, Tana River and Garrissa in that order.

And those leading in terms of numbers of those registered are Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Meru, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kakamega, Muranga, Machakos and Kisumu.

The commission also warned against physical voter transfers, where the electorate are bribed to change stations. Mr Chebukati noted that they have received complaints and investigations are ongoing.

“Whereas Kenyans are allowed to register anywhere, the decision to transfer to a particular electoral area should not be done under undue influence or any form of bribery. Such conduct amounts to an electoral offence,”he said.

To ensure credible election results and trust by the voters, Mr Chebukati said the commission will include identity card numbers and not just fingerprints in the BVR identification kit to avoid duplicity of voters.


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