, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 – He walked to a desk and in roughly 10 minutes, President Mwai Kibaki emerged as a biometrically registered voter at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
The Head of State was taken through the motions where he first presented his identity card, the serial number was punched onto a computer and after his data appeared on a screen, he was asked to press his finger tips for reading and later look into a camera mounted on a laptop in front of him.
A few minutes later, the machine deciphered the data collected and lo and behold! he was now a registered voter. He was then presented with a slip confirming he was an eligible voter.
With that, the manual registration process that was cited as one of the catalysts for electoral malpractices that escalated during the botched 2007 polls was confined to history as BVR rolled out countrywide.
Like any other novel venture, the BVR got off to a number of minor glitches with registration clerks coming under criticism for their inability to grasp the new process leading to long delays as Information Technology experts came to their rescue.
President Kibaki advised Kenyans to take the process seriously and keep away from anyone who may seek to disrupt it.
“There is no room for you to pretend you were registered once upon a time. Please, there is no such a thing; even if you were registered once upon a time you must register afresh,” he said.
The president said registering as a voter was an important democratic tool that enables Kenyans to participate in the election of leaders of their choice to determine the fortunes of the country and counties.
“Most importantly, registering to vote gives you the power to determine the future and destiny of Kenya. Honestly there is no point in shouting about the rest, unless you do the real thing,” said the president.
He encouraged all eligible voters to spare time early enough to register and avoid the last minute rush.
He re-emphasised that the voter registration exercise will only run for 30 days from Monday without extension since the IEBC is working with very strict timelines as laid out in the Elections Act.
The electoral body also clarified that voters will only be able to cast ballots at the polling centre where they register as voters.
This means for instance, if you want to cast your vote away from Nairobi, you will be required to travel all the way to the constituency where your preferred centre is.
“It is not true you can register anywhere you want and vote at a different polling station of your choice,” said a statement from the commission.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa observed that the commencement of voter registration marks an important milestone in our journey towards the next general elections on March 4 next year.
The IEBC has gazetted 25,000 registration centres across the country. Further, the commission has recruited and trained over 30,000 clerks who will use 15,000 registration kits across 290 constituencies and 1,450 constituency assembly wards to register a minimum of 18 million voters in the next 30 days.
On his part, IEBC chairman Issack Hassan called on the government to speed up the issuance of national IDs to the over four million youths who require them in order to register as voters.
The IEBC chairman further cautioned voters not to attempt to register twice or use fake documents while registering as those found contravening the election rules will be dealt with accordingly.