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Prisoners seek rights to vote in all elective seats

Tuesday May 14 2019

prisoners vote

An inmate votes at Kamiti Maximum Prison on October 26, 2017. Prisoners are seeking to be allowed to vote in all the elective seats come the next general elections. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ABIUD OCHIENG
By ABIUD OCHIENG
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Prisoners are seeking to be allowed to vote in all the elective seats in the next general elections.

Their application is bolstered by an earlier court verdict in a case filed by Kituo cha Sheria, where the court directed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in 2013 to put in place measures to ensure that prisoners are registered to vote, and are able to vote in first General Election.

PRESIDENTIAL VOTE

High Court Judge David Majanja declared that prisoners are, subject to Article 83 (1) of the Constitution entitled to be registered as voters and have the right to vote under Article 38(3)(a) and (b) of the Constitution.

The electoral body complied but ironically, it was limited to the presidential vote only.

It is not clear how the judgment was interpreted to imply vote for presidential only, but it also affected prison officers who had registered as voters within the prison facilities and, therefore, voted in the presidential election only.

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FIVE POSITIONS

In the latest application, filed by Aloise Onyango Otieno, an inmate at Kamiti maximum prison, on behalf of fellow inmates, says they also seek to be allowed to vote for Members of the County Assembly, Members of Parliament, Members of Senate, Women Representatives, and Governors.

“We urge the court to compel IEBC to register prisoners to vote in all the elective seats in the 2022 General Elections. IEBC should also be compelled to print ballot papers for all the five positions,” Mr Onyango in court papers.

He says being denied the right to vote for candidates seeking these seats is discriminatory to prisoners and violates their rights to equality before the law.

REFERANDA

In the January 21, 2013 judgment, the court also directed IEBC to put in place and implement measures to ensure it facilitates the right of prisoners to register to vote and vote in future elections and referenda.

The prisoners are optimistic that should the highly publicised referenda to change the constitution be actualised, they will be among Kenyans who will cast the deciding vote.

The correctional facilities are currently holding approximately 55,000 persons, who are serving various sentences.

He has been directed to serve the IEBC and the Attorney General with the court papers.

The case will be heard on June 17.