, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) on Wednesday trained 103 prison officials who will act as registration officers for inmates, ahead of the August 4 referendum.
With only two days to go to the start of the registration exercise IIEC Chairman Issack Hassan said the officers had been trained on handling the Electronic Voter Registration machines as well as the basic requirements of a voter.
Mr Hassan who said the commission wanted to beat time also asked the Attorney General to facilitate the speedy issuance of prisoners’ Identity Cards to ensure a smooth running of the exercise.
“I know that there have been concerns expressed that some of the people who are in prisons don’t have ID cards. That’s a very genuine concern but that’s why the AG has been ordered to give IDs to these people. It is a minimum requirement which a voter must have,” he said.
The IIEC Chairman also said that inmates who would be released before the referendum would have to go back to their holding facilities to vote.
“We have those peculiar characters or cases but where for example a person has been registered as a voter in Kamiti Maximum Prison and then for one reason or the other he is out on bail he will have to go back for voting not as a prisoner but as a voter,” explained Mr Hassan.
The Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court last week made a landmark ruling directing the IIEC, the Committee of Experts and the AG to have inmates registered as voters.
Commissioner Winnie Guchu told Capital News that the IIEC would use pre-recorded audio and visual clips to educate the prisoners on voting arguing it would save time.
“Because the prisons are too many we will not be able to reach all of them with our voter education message before Friday so we will use taped messages. And we know prisons nowadays have access to television and radio,” she said.
Ms Guchu further explained that the IIEC would conduct voter education on the voting process and also the referendum.
Mr Hassan maintained that prisoners would only be allowed to vote at the forthcoming referendum but not the general election saying the Prison’s Act would be observed.
“Once they (inmates) cast their vote, their voting cards will be confiscated. The fact that the court made this order does not mean that the Prison’s Act has been suspended so the law governing prisons must be followed,” he said.
The IIEC could not immediately establish how many inmates who qualified as voters lacked Identity Cards.