Kenyans with ID waiting cards could register as voters

Voters queue to cast ballots in a previous election/CFM-File

NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 6 – Kenyans with waiting cards will now be able to register as voters once the president assents to the Election Act(Amendment) Bill 2012.

The waiting cards however will only be used in registration but not for voting, after MPs passed amendments to the law.

Attorney General Githu Muigai amended the initial proposal by Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo to have those with waiting cards vote, arguing that this will create a loophole for fraud in elections.

He said the period between voter registration and election day should provide ample time for those with waiting cards to acquire IDs.

“It may very well turnout, that the registrar of persons may decline to register you for one or several reasons including having found out that you were not qualified to be a registered Kenyan either because you are a refugee, such that to make that document the basis of voting would open the possibility of fraud, which we were trying to avoid,” he said.

Midiwo, the mover, argued that Kenyans with provisional identity cards have evidence of having registered for identification cards and should therefore be registered as voters.

“When you are given the waiting slip, it is an indication that the government has accepted that you are a Kenyan citizen,” he explained.

He said the amendment should be made for the purposes of the coming 2013 elections only.

The proposed amendment comes at a time when the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) is ongoing in readiness for the March 4 polls.

Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu and his Makadara counterpart Mike Sonko have already moved to court to seek orders directing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to allow youths without Identification Card to use their waiting cards to register as voters.

The duo argues that the IEBC began registration on November 19 until December 18 and it may lock out at least six million youths who have waiting cards.

They further pointed out that the commission has stated unequivocally that it will not extend the voting period no matter the circumstance.

The legislators want the court to declare that fundamental rights and freedoms have been threatened as a result of the exclusion of six million youths from registration as voters.

The MPs added that elections are scheduled to take place on March 4 and it’s highly unlikely that the six million youths will receive their national identity cards before voter registration ends.

Through their lawyer Evans Ondieki, the legislators further want the court to order the IEBC to extend the time for registration of voters or that they carry out the registration on a 24 hour basis until all eligible Kenyans are registered.

IEBC Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan said those who produce waiting cards for identification will not be registered, clarifying that the only a national ID or Kenya Passport will be accepted.

LABAN WANAMBISI

Laban Wanambisi is a Parliamentary and Political reporter. He joined the Capital Newsteam in 2005. Since then, he has reported on many of the major news events over the years including his first major assignment covering the 2005 National Referendum on the Draft Constitution, and several other subsequent key national and international events.