Police, athletes and poll clerks likely not to cast their votes

Tuesday August 8 2017

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) staff arrange ballot boxes for distribution at the National Industrial Training College on August 7, 2017.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) staff arrange ballot boxes for distribution at the National Industrial Training College on August 7, 2017. The IEBC will deploy 180,000 security officers to the 40,833 polling stations countrywide. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By WALTER MENYA
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Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans are likely miss the chance to have their say in Tuesday’s General Election because of the nature of their work.

The number excludes hundreds or possibly millions of Kenyans who, though registered by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, choose not to vote.

The date of the General Election is fixed with no provision for early voting or absentee ballot system, as is used in advanced democracies like the United States and Australia.

IEBC has hired more than 360,000 people as returning officers, presiding officers their deputies, polling clerks, Information Communication Technology clerks and logistics officers to man the 40,833 polling stations countrywide.

A vast majority have been posted outside the areas they registered as voters. 

360,000 STAFF

“On election day, we shall have 360,000 staff who include presiding officers, clerks, 290 constituency returning officers and their deputies and 47 county returning officers and their deputies,” a top IEBC official told journalists late last week.

The increase in the number of registered voters from 14.3 million in March 2013 to the current 19.6 million, as well as the amendments to the Elections Act have necessitated a rise in the number of polling stations from 31,000 to 40,833.

The amendments to the Act meant that IEBC had to create new polling stations to comply with the requirement that none should have more than 700 registered voters.

As a result, the commission was required to recruit more Kenyans as temporary poll officials.

ELECTION OFFICERS

In addition to the election officers, IEBC will also deploy 180,000 security personnel to the stations countrywide.

“The commission shall deploy at least two security officers per polling station,” IEBC said.

The officers are drawn from the National Police Service, Kenya Prisons, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forests Service.

This number excludes personnel to be deployed by the National Police Service to maintain law and order before, during and after the General Election.

Already IEBC’s Electoral Risk Mapping has identified several counties as possible violence hotspots.

These are Tana River, Lamu, Kwale, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Meru, Narok, Nakuru, Baringo, Nandi, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori.

CONFLICT RISK COUNTIES

Turkana, Samburu, Laikipia, Nyeri, Kiambu and Kilifi have been identified as average conflict risk counties.

In Nairobi County, the areas being closely monitored by security agents are City Centre, Umoja, Kariobangi, Dandora and Kayole.

Others are Kiambiu, Githogoro, Kibera, Mathare Mukuru, Dagoretti, Kawangware, Buru Buru, Globe Cinema, Kangemi, Ngara, Marurui and Korogocho.

As a result of the elections, leave for police officers and other security personnel have been put on hold.

Those already on holiday have been recalled.

POLLING OFFICIALS

Besides polling officials and security agents, journalists covering the General Election may also not get a chance to cast their ballots. 

Many of them will be deployed to out-of-station locations to report on the elections from the 290 constituencies.

Also in the list of Kenyans who may not take part in the elections is the contingent of athletes representing the country in the IAAF World Championships London, which started on Friday August 4 and end on August 13.

Kenya sent a delegation of 104 athletes and officials to the biennial athletics event.