, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 30 – The Institute for Education in Democracy is cautioning that resources for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission are going to waste following low voter registration.
IED Executive Director Peter Aling’o estimates that the IEBC is incurring losses amounting to Sh80million daily due to non-failure to register.
An Interim report by its Observation Group on the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration shows that most kits allocated countrywide are underutilised with some recording no registrations in a day.
“It should be noted that the IEBC is spending close to $1 million of the taxpayers’ money per day on the BVR process. If eligible persons do not turn out to register, the country continues to waste close to one million US dollars of taxpayers’ money per day and we cannot afford this,” he said.
He raised concern that the last minute rush that Kenyans are known for could lead to some of them being locked out of the process due to time constraints since its takes roughly 10 minutes to register one person.
He added; “We are therefore calling upon Kenyans not to wait for the last minute but should register now, today not tomorrow.”
The Observation Group report attributes the low turnout in the process to the fact that many people are reluctant to register as voters where they currently reside, due to the political zoning being fanned by the political parties.
“We are also concerned that the political dynamics that we are seeing in the country where certain parts and regions are being zoned is creating a general fear and an environment of intimidation particularly for those who are perceived not to be part of the dominant political ideology in that region this is also impacting negatively on those areas,” he stressed.
Meanwhile Aling’o said the Independent IEBC is not capable of preparing efficiently for the Kenyans living in the Diaspora to register and participate in the March 4 polls.
Aling’o, who has participated in the observation of many elections on the continent including the presidential and parliamentary elections in Uganda in 2006 and in Lesotho in 2007, said the commission should come out clearly and explain to the Diaspora why they have to wait until 2017.
He is warning that a protracted court battle over the right of the Kenyans in Diaspora to vote might end up affecting the date of the elections.
“The time remaining now does not allow the IEBC to do this. In my view, I would tell IEBC to apologise to Kenyans for giving them the assurance and tell them although we thought this could happen, in practical terms it cannot happen, it is unfortunate.”
Alingo said that the IEBC will also need to ensure that they put measures to secure details of those who will be registered in the Diaspora.
“It’s not an easy thing particularly when it comes to safeguarding the integrity of those ballots, because Diaspora voting in most cases takes place in advance so the security and integrity of the registration and the ballot are things you must plan well in advance about and be able to assure Kenyans that this will not be tempered with and if you do not do that you end up where we are of voting.”
At the same time, Alingo is calling on Parliament to deal with the amendment to the election act which will allow Kenyans who are waiting to collect their national identification cards to use their waiting cards.
“This simply means we will be using evidence of registration as a criterion for registration. The criteria is that you must be a Kenya citizen, which is not determined by holding a national ID but it’s a birth right, “he argued.