, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – Voting for the Homa Bay Senatorial by-election kicked off on a high note on Thursday morning as polling stations opened at 6.00am with long queues being seen across the constituency.
It, however, emerged that Moses Kajwang’ – the candidate for the Orange Democratic Movement party – will not cast his vote because he is not registered as a voter in the county.
His main rival Philip Okundi was expected to cast his vote at the Obambo Primary School polling station and some voters who spoke to Capital FM News described their eagerness to cast their ballot for a leader to replace the late Otieno Kajwang’.
“I would wish to participate in choosing a leader who deserves the post according to me. I would also wish to come back in the evening so that I also see for myself how the counting is taking place,” Rose Abok, one of the voters there stated.
“When I went to the polling station, my name was not in the polling book or the electronic voter register but I have voted. I want to choose a leader who will make a difference,” she said.
Homa Bay Town Member of Parliament Peter Kaluma said the exercise is proceeding smoothly and urged voters to be calm throughout the day.
“People have woken up, all polling stations are open with a few hitches here and there in terms of limitations to agents at the stations. There is peace largely across the county,” he said.
There was heavy security in the entire constituency where an additional 2,000 police officers were deployed on Wednesday. In the meantime, clerks manning polling stations have been told to be vigilant on double registered voters.
The county Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Returning Officer Maurice Raria indicated that they had provided a list containing names of double registered voters to the polling clerks.
Raria pointed out that double registered voters will not be allowed to vote and they will be arrested once they turn up to vote at the polling station.
“Double registered voters will not be allowed to vote. We will have a list of voters who have registered more than once.
There could be multiple and not just double but if the voters turn up to cast their ballot, they will be arrested since it is an electoral offence,” he said.
Speaking at the Agricultural Training Centre – the county tallying centre – Raria emphasized that it remains an electoral offence for once to register twice or more and those found will be taken to court to answer to charges.
The commission vice chair Lillian Mahiri stated that polling centres will close at 5.00pm but that time will be extended for those in the queue.
She pointed out that in some cases polling stations delay in opening voting in time and this must be compensated after the elapse of 5pm.
Eight candidates are battling for the favour of the 325,000 registered voters in the County. Four of the candidates have been sponsored by political parties, while the rest are independent.
Those contesting are ODM’s Moses Otieno Kajwang’ Philip Okundi from Maendeleo Democratic Party, Fred Rabongo of the National Agenda Party and Bernard Owuor Otieno from the National Vision Party.
The independent candidates are Hillary Onyango Ochieng Alila, Edwin Omondi Matete, Innocent Masara and Prof Luke Medo Misama.