, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – Voting kicked off smoothly in the Wajir South by-election on Wednesday morning, with all 73 polling stations opening promptly at 6am.
The Presiding Officer at the Habaswein Polytechnic Polling Station, Florence Kwamboka, said the process was slow as most voters sought help to mark the ballots.
"Voting started at 6am and all parties are represented. All the agents were in the room at that time so we started quite on time. The voters have come out in large numbers and we are continuing with the process," she said.
"Most of them are illiterate and they requested that we assist them in marking the ballot," she added.
According to Ms Kwamboka, there were no reported incidents at the polling centre which has 659 registered voters and 50 queues.
"We want everyone to be peaceful throughout the whole process as it is now. We are assuring them that everything is going to be okay," she said.
Wajir South has 21, 960 registered voters with Dagahaley Primary School being the largest polling centre with a total of 1,098 voters while Gulled Dere Dam is the smallest with only seven voters registered.
Six candidates are contesting the Wajir South seat but the frontrunners are KANU\’s Abdirahman Ali Hassan who lost an election petition in July and Muhhamed Sirat of ODM-K.
Ms Kwamboka said the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) had engaged Political Parties and the Provincial Administration to ensure the voting is conducted peacefully.
Extra police officers have been deployed to the area to maintain peace and curb importation of voters or influx of supporters from neighbouring constituencies.
The Political Parties Liaison Committee recently held a meeting in Garissa with candidates and party officials.
Like in the recent by-elections and the Constitution referendum, the IIEC will transmit preliminary results electronically. Some satellite phones have been provided to areas where there is no mobile phone network coverage.
However, the IIEC can only transit 50 percent of the results electronically because of communication challenges in remote areas.