Extend voter listing, electoral body told

Monday March 14 2016

Molo residents queue to register as voters at Molo Stadium, Nakuru, on February 26, 2016. A group of ODM lawmakers from Nyanza said an extension would give more eligible Kenyans a chance to register. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Molo residents queue to register as voters at Molo Stadium, Nakuru, on February 26, 2016. A group of ODM lawmakers from Nyanza said an extension would give more eligible Kenyans a chance to register. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
More by this Author

Leaders across the country have asked the electoral team to extend the voter registration drive scheduled to end on Tuesday.

They claim that the campaign, which has been marred by widespread apathy, has not registered the intended number of voters and sticking to the deadline risks disenfranchising millions of potential voters.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), while admitting that it might not meet more than half of its two million target, has, however, said it will not extend the registration because it does not have the money.

The calls for extension came from across the political divide, particularly from the Orange Democratic Movement, the Wiper Democratic Movement, Ford Asili, and the Alliance Party of Kenya.

A group of ODM lawmakers from Nyanza said an extension would give more eligible Kenyans a chance to register.

MPs Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem), John Kobado (Uriri) and Oburu Oginga (nominated), asked the IEBC to consider their request to ensure the constitutional rights of the public to participate in elections are respected.

“The IEBC has no option ... because it has not met its expected target,” said Mr Wandayi. “We challenge the government to work closely with MPs towards ways of securing cash for the commission to continue registering Kenyan voters.”

The MPs blamed the voter apathy on poor mobilisation by politicians and lack of identity cards among those who qualify.

While releasing results for the third week of the registration drive, IEBC officials said 868,073 people had been registered by March 6.

The commission had hoped to register two million new voters by Sunday.

SENSITISATION
In a statement, IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba said: “The registration rate is higher in counties where local leaders are directly involved in mobilisation.”

In Mombasa, a Wiper Democratic Movement activist, Mr Mark Ouma Geoffrey, also asked for more time. “We are concerned with the poor turnout,” he said.

Ford Asili, on the other hand, attributed the low voter registration to poor leadership and corruption at both national and county government levels.

Party Secretary-General Njeru Kathangu, speaking in Embu town on Sunday, said Kenyans had also lost confidence in the electoral process because IEBC had been linked to corrupt deals.

The former Runyenjes MP cited allegations of rigging and the ‘Chicken’ scandal as some of the issues that kept many Kenyans who have attained 18 years from registering as voters.

“There should be enhanced sensitisation on the need to vote out bad leaders through getting a voter’s card,” he said.

A group of young aspirants for various elective positions in the county have said that they will be moving door to door on Monday to encourage people to register.

“We aim to achieve at least 50,000 in the remaining two days,” said Mr Gitonga Mwaniki, 29, who is leading the aspirants. “We can’t remove bad leadership by mere shouting. We need to register as voters.

Separately, Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti expressed concern over low voter registration in the county and attributed it to lack of identity cards.

He said many people, especially women, failed to register because they had misplaced their identification documents.

Mr Kivuti spoke at Kanyueri Secondary School in Mbeere North, where he officially opened a CDF-built laboratory and gave a donation of Sh500,000 to build a dormitory.

He urged those who had misplaced their identification cards to apply for replacements.

The senator, who is the Mt Kenya East Parliamentary Caucus chairman, said area leaders were concerned by the low turnout and had embarked on civic education to encourage more people to sign up.

Mr Kivuti urged youths who have left school to apply for identity cards.

“You cannot get a job or participate in choosing your leaders without an ID. The opposition regions seems to be doing better in voter registration. It is the new voters who will enable Jubilee to make a comeback,” he said.

DISAPPOINTED
Mbeere North MP Muriuki Njagagua expressed similar sentiments and told residents to reach out to people at home and encourage them to vote.

In Meru, leaders blamed the apathy on an angry and dissatisfied public unwilling to go to the ballot box in 2017.

Speaking during a voter registration sensitisation meeting, Mr Mwenda Mbijiwe, who is eyeing the Meru governor’s seat, said potential voters in the region were angry because leaders had failed them.

But he warned: “Refusal to vote is voting in the wrong person. If you do not vote you will get disappointed once other people decide for you.”

Reporting by Nelcon Odhiambo, Moses Odhiambo, Daniel Nyassy, Charles Wanyoro and Irene Murithi