The electoral commission has confirmed that it managed to register less than 2,000 Kenyans living in the East African region to vote in next year’s General Election.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Vice Chairperson Lillian Mahiri-Zaja attributed the low turnout to “logistical challenges” for the ten-day exercise which concluded on December 25.
“We are yet to compile the records and I can estimate that we have about 1,700 people registered, certainly not more than 2,000,” she told the Nation. “We did not have a target number when the registration was opened to them but set out to register as many people as we could despite the logistical challenges we faced it being an out of country exercise.”
She explained that they did not set a target number because IEBC does not have the number of eligible voters living in the region.
The IEBC had expected to register 18 million voters during the month-long registration in Kenya. However, this number was later revised to 12 million people.
At the close of the exercise, 14,337,399 people registered as voter in the country.
By December 19, IEBC commissioner Mohamed Alawi confirmed they had registered 1,000 voters in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Ms Mahiri-Zaja said the number of registered voters in the region would not affect their cases to participate in the March 4 polls.
“The Constitution provides for their right to vote and we cannot deny them the opportunity but have to do it progressively. From this experience, we will be able to extend our reach to Kenyans living in other countries,” she said.
While applauding the assistance they received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she said the IEBC needs to be better financed in order for it to meet its mandate regarding voters based beyond Kenya’s borders.
“It is not easy to go into another country and go about government business without the host country being informed and this is where the Ministry came in handy,” the Commissioner said.
Ms Mahiri-Zaja went on to add: “The IEBC needs enough money to meet the travel costs for clerks to such stations and to provide our embassies out there with centres to carry out the voting exercise.”