The race for four million new voters kicked off Monday with both Jubilee and Cord targeting to raise the numbers they need for victory in next year’s general election.
Launching the voter registration drive at the Pumwani Social Hall in Nairobi, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said it was targeting four million voters during the first phase which will run until March 15.
Both Jubilee and Cord have been devising strategies to ensure that potential voters in their strongholds come out to sign up in large numbers.
“The information we have is that there are eight million eligible voters out there. We are targeting to register four million voters during this first phase and another four million during the second phase,” IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba told the Nation.
A similar campaign will be conducted at the same time next year.
Statistics from the commission show that competition for new voters will mainly be concentrated in the Central region, Rift Valley, Western, Nyanza and upper Eastern regions which collectively account for over seventy per cent of eligible voters.
The figures show that Cord strongholds have the highest number of potential voters compared to regions that lean towards Jubilee.
This could explain why in recent weeks, top Jubilee leaders have been making political overtures in the Coast and Nyanza regions, which supported Cord in 2013.
In the last two weeks, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy, Mr William Ruto, have made different visits to Nyanza.
There are 616,697 potential voters who are yet to register in Nyanza and another 589,306 in western Kenya, where Cord and the Amani National Congress (ANC) led by Musalia Mudavadi are close contestants but where Jubilee also has a keen interest.
Central Kenya, which supported President Kenyatta in 2013, has the third highest number of potential voters at 538,433, followed by Coast with 512,285.
Rift Valley — where the Deputy President comes from — has about 448,803 eligible voters while lower Eastern, the stronghold of Mr Odinga’s ally, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, has 407,134. North Eastern, which largely voted for Jubilee in 2013 has 200,320 potential voters.
In December and January, the President spent several weeks at the Coast, where he issued title deeds and unveiled development projects in various counties.
Similarly, Mr Ruto made several trips to the Western region and Kisii counties — areas which hold swing votes.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said that the ruling party was seeking to maintain its strongholds while winning over other regions in Western, Coast and Kisii.
“We want to maintain our 2013 strongholds as we go fishing in Cord areas where we got minimal votes. We want to get a share of those votes,” he said on phone.
At the Coast, Jubilee has been targeting Kilifi, Kwale and Taita Taveta counties while in Western it has been focusing its forays on Bungoma, Trans Nzoia and Busia counties.
“Of the four million voters in this registration phase, we want Jubilee to have three million,” he said.
In Kisumu on Sunday, Cord leaders Odinga, Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula met governors and gave them a critical role in driving voter registration, arguing that their chances of dislodging Jubilee lay in mass registration.
In a statement released after the launch of the registration, Cord accused IEBC of distributing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits in Jubilee strongholds only. However, IEBC chairman Issack Hassan said that the kits will be locked to register only voters at polling stations that fall within a particular ward.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Mr Hassan stated that the Commission had employed 5,756 Voter Registration Assistants (VRAs) to carry out the registration with funding from the National Treasury and the sup