, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 26 – The much awaited fresh voter registration exercise is set to kick off on March 22.
The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) announced on Friday that the Sh3.4 billion exercise will take 45 days instead of the earlier announced 90 “owing to time constraints.”
Chairman Issack Hassan said the commission was expecting to register 18 million eligible Kenyan voters.
“We will take one month to verify the names and possibly release to the country a new register in June,” said Mr Hassan.
He said the commission had started receiving procured materials for the exercise and will next week gazette 44,383 clerks who will carry out the exercise. He however said the new voters’ card will be similar to the old ones in features.
“We will have a similar voter register. However, it will be cleaner. We have upgraded our Information Communication Technology infrastructure so that we will have a register which can easily detect double registration.”
The commission will pilot the ‘electronic registration system’ in 19 constituencies as it prepares the country for what Mr Hassan termed as “the ultimate solution to credible electoral processes.”
The registration exercise will be overseen by 17 regional coordinators and 210 Constituency Election coordinators.
“The coordinators have finalised mapping the polling centres. We had asked them to propose any changes they think are necessary,” said the Chairman.
The exercise is part of the reform agenda aimed at ‘restoring Kenyans’ faith in the electoral system. After the disputed 2007 Presidential elections results it was alleged that over two million dead voters’ cards were used to vote.
The exercise is the second of the main mandates of the interim electoral body, after the establishment of a credible secretariat which the commission announced to have finalised.
The two-year mandate for the commission ends in December this year or at the enactment of the new Constitution. The new law however proposes that in creating the new commission consideration be given to the need for continuity, giving the current commissioners a possible opportunity.
The new register will give way for the two by-elections in South Mugirango and Matuga following the nullification of MPs Omingo Magara and Chirau Mwakwere respectively by the High court.
Mr Hassan said the commission would conduct the by-election in June. He however warned that only those who voted in the two constituencies in the 2007 general election will be allowed to vote.
“The only new voters we will permit are those who have just reached the age of 18 and have Identity cards. We are trying to stop the importation of voters,” he said.
Speaker Kenneth Marende declared the South Mugirango seat vacant last month but is yet to issue writs for the Matuga seat.