Security officers have been directed to deal firmly with reported cases of bribery and voter intimidation as voters in Ikolomani pick their new MP on Monday.
The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) said voters in the constituency should be left to pick their next MP freely.
Commissioner Hamara Ibrahim Aden said it would be up to officers on the ground to ensure those involved in violence and voter bribery were arrested.
There will be two police officers deployed at each polling station during voting.
Ms Aden said the commission had met the three candidates, Dr Boni Khalwale (New Ford Kenya), Mr Bernard Shinali (ODM) and Dr Collins Matemba (Ford People) and briefed them on the issue.
“We have finalised the preparations and hope everything will proceed smoothly so that voters in Ikolomani can elect their new MP without any hitches,” she said.
She said voters who were unable to read or write would be allowed to go the polling stations accompanied by people who can assist them in the process after seeking permission from the presiding officer.
Impressive voter turnout
Ballot boxes were opened in the presence of observers and security officers at Makhokho tallying centre for verification by presiding officers and their deputies before being transported to respective polling stations.
Returning officer Benjamin Tarus said preparations for the by-election had gone smoothly.
He said police officers in the company of presiding officers and their deputies would guard ballot papers and other materials on transit to the 63 polling stations. Ikolomani has 35,833 registered voters.
The IIEC team said it was expecting an impressive voter turnout despite the heavy rains and chilly weather conditions reported on the eve of the poll.
The constituency remained calm ahead of the by-election. A group of observers told the Nation that they ran into a supporter of one of the candidates at a church function at Musoli trying to woo voters with cash handouts.
ODM and New Ford Kenya have been involved in intense campaigns for the Ikolomani seat.
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi pitched camp at the constituency to ensure the ODM candidate emerged the winner.
Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and Housing minister Soita Shitanda have been pushing for voters to re-elect Dr Khalwale.
A victory for the ODM candidate will be a big boost to Mr Mudavadi, who is trying to ward off competition from the Saboti MP for the region’s political supremacy.
Mr Wamalwa, who has declared he will vie for the presidency in the next general election, hopes to consolidate support in the region should Dr Khalwale be re-elected to complete his term.
Presiding officers in Ikolomani have been equipped with laptops and mobile phones to transmit the results from respective polling stations after completing the tallying process.
Commissioner Aden said the officials had been trained on the use of the gadgets and no delays were expected in release of the results.
“The results will be transmitted simultaneously to the tallying centre at Makhokho and the IIEC headquarters by the presiding officers after they are through with tallying,” she said.
Voters in Ikolomani will use the electronic voter registered in the by-election.
The first area MP was Mr Jonathan Muruli of the Kenya African Democratic Union. He vied for the seat in 1963 and served until 1969 when Kanu’s Seth Lugonzo won the elections.
Mr Lugonzo served until 1974 and lost to Mr Clement Lubembe of Kanu. Mr Lubembe served for only one term and was defeated by Mr Jeremiah Khamadi Murila in the 1979 general election.
Mr Lugonzo bounced back in 1983 and was re-elected in 1988 before Mr Benjamin Magwaga of Ford Asili won the seat in 1992.
He later defected to Kanu and won the seat on the party ticket in a by-election but lost to former Central Organisation of Trade Unions secretary Joseph Mugala in 1997.
Dr Boni Khalwale was first elected to Parliament on a Narc ticket in 2002 and went in for a second term in 2007 on New Ford Kenya ticket.
But his term was cut short after the High Court nullified his election citing irregularities in the tallying of votes.
The petition was filed by Mr Mr Shinali, who in the previous election, narrowly lost to Dr Khalwale.