Ensure integrity of electoral register

Saturday February 4 2017

By EDITORIAL
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The process of registration of voters enters the homestretch this week as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) seeks to enrol Kenyans who were not listed in the last exercise in 2012.

Early projections have not been encouraging. IEBC figures reveal that in many parts of the country, the number of those that have enlisted falls well below the tally of eligible voters that hold identity cards and are not on the voters’ roll.

The reasons for voter apathy are many and varied and it is entirely up to the individual whether they choose to take part in elections or not.

However, the case for voting – considered in a democracy one of the highest and most treasured expressions of civic duty – is compelling.

Even when the candidates are not perfect, the voter earns the right, through their vote, to keep those that come into office at all levels on their toes since it is their democratic choice that will have landed those representatives in high office.

It is obvious as well that the voter registration phase is one of the most important stages in the electoral process.

Parties have an obvious interest in rallying as many of their supporters as possible to enrol.

ADDRESSED SQUARELY

However, serious questions have been raised about the integrity of the electoral register. It is essential that these concerns are addressed squarely if the public is to have faith in the electoral process.

The queries that have arisen such as the presence in the register of people whose details are entered using the identity cards of prominent Kenyans, including former presidents, point to the need for a thoroughgoing cleanup of the register.

This means that the next phase of the electoral process, the audit of the register, should be carried out in a manner that enjoys bipartisan support and which is clearly above board.

Kenya has paid a heavy price for getting elections wrong in the past. Already this year, investors have fled the stock exchange anticipating a violent fallout from the election. Agricultural output also traditionally slows down to a trickle in election years.

The way to break this cycle is to ensure that elections are truly credible. The IEBC must take steps to address the concerns that have been raised about the register to clear the way for an election which the majority of Kenyans can endorse.