NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 14 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has raised objections over the use of ID waiting cards to register eligible voters, saying it risks denting the credibility of the voters’ roll.
IEBC vice-chairperson Lilian Mahiri-Zaja, told journalists in Nairobi on Friday that the credibility of the elections relied heavily on the quality of the voters’ register used to facilitate the polls and it was crucial to use documents that will achieve this.
She noted that the waiting slips do not bear any serial numbers or photographs of the ID holder, creating room for double registration.
“We have been in a process which was riddled with a lot of malpractices and fraud so we have had to create a new register to ensure that it is credible,” she observed.
“If the register is not credible, then you cannot be sure about the credibility of the process thereafter,” she argued.
Parliament amended the Elections Act on Thursday giving the green light for use of the waiting cards in the registration process. The law must be assented to by the president, before potential voters are allowed to register.
The waiting cards cannot however be used to vote during the March 4 election. Those registered with them will be required to have obtained their IDs before March 4, 2013.
Mahiri-Zaja added that the IEBC had already written to the Attorney General expressing its concerns with the new provision.
“There are many challenges with the waiting cards and of course the IEBC in line with the recommendations of the Kriegler Commission, wants to ensure that we create a credible register,” she said.
She added that the BVR kits’ software had to be modified to accommodate use of the waiting cards.
The electoral body at the same time expressed concern over claims that some political aspirants had been importing voters to their areas in an attempt to boost supporter numbers.
Mahiri-Zaja warned them against such trickery saying the Electoral Code of Conduct would catch up with them and impose stiff penalties on those found guilty including Sh100,000 fine and/or three years imprisonment.
“Come polling day, the IEBC will have kicked in the Electoral Code of Conduct and we are warning people that if your were transported to register you should not be seen to be transported again to go and vote in that particular area,” she said reminding Kenyans that the IEBC had its eyes and ears on the ground.
The commission also asked religious institutions to ask Kenyans to take advantage of the time left to register owing to the fact that there would no extension.
Mahiri-Zaja said any alteration will have a ripple effect on the electoral calendar.
“We have so far registered 10.3 million Kenyans and we only have four more days to go. Kenyans are last minute people but we must all make sacrifices,” she asserted.
She also pointed out that some Kenyans were confused as to where to register because of the new boundaries while others felt that they wanted to cast their votes in the rural homes but were having difficulties getting time to travel.
The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) however warned eligible voters against staying away from the registration exercise noting it would determine the country’s political future.
Commission on Administrative Justice Chairperson Otiende Amollo also urged employers to give their employees time off to register.
“But they must come back with a voters’ slip to show that they actually spent the time as required,” he cautioned.
The IEBC is also worried about the insecurity being witnessed in several parts of the country ahead of the elections.
Mahiri-Zaja said the commission was particularly worried about the threat posed by the outlawed Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) as well as incessant grenade attacks on civilians as the voter registration process continues.
The concern came as unknown hitmen hurled a grenade at eligible voters in Garissa, who had been queuing to get registered on Friday morning.
“IEBC has had a lot of challenges in terms of insecurity- Mombasa region with the MRC, Garissa, Samburu and Nairobi which has been hit by several bomb incidents,” she observed.