, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will carry out a voting simulation exercise on February 18 in all 1,450 wards in the country.
“It’s almost like a mock election…we are going to identify a polling station in each of the county assembly wards and we’ll take you through a semblance of the voting day procedure,” Nixon Ng’ang’a, the IEBC officer charged with coordinating the commission’s voter education efforts, explained.
A week from Sunday, voters will be taken through the process of marking their ballot papers and the process of transmission of results will be made clear.
“We’ve set aside a national day on the February 18 so the whole nation will be taken through a simulation of the voting procedure including marking the ballot and the transmission of results. We are going to identify a polling station in each of the County Assembly Wards,” Ng’ang’a pointed out.
Every one of the six posts will have its own ballot box and so the ballot papers for the six elective posts will be coloured differently, as they will be on the voting day, so voters will know which ballot box to cast their vote in.
“The ballot box itself is translucent but the lid corresponds to the colour of the ballot paper… presidential is white, yellow for senator, blue for governor, green for members of the national assembly, purple for the county woman representative to the national assembly and we’ve got beige for the county assembly ward representative,” Ng’ang’a disclosed.
Voters should consult their Constituency Election Officers to know which polling station will be used for the exercise. A list of these officers and their contacts, Ng’ang’a says, can be found on the IEBC website.
Posters will be put up in the various wards for those who cannot access the website to boost the efforts of the two voter educators, one male and one female, assigned to each ward.
The IEBC decided to carry out the mock poll to guard against a large number of spoilt votes come the March 4 general election.
“We witnessed 218,000 rejected ballot papers in 2010 in the referendum. We’ve also been witnessing a pretty high number of rejected ballots in various by elections that we’ve held so far,” Ng’ang’a revealed.
He believes these numbers are likely to be compounded in the general election because it will be the first time in Kenya’s history that Kenyans will be required to vote for six (and not three) elective positions.
“Our fear is that if we do not conduct very elaborate voter education specifically on how to mark the ballot paper then with the challenge of expanded election that the new constitution poses, we’d probably magnify the problem of rejected ballots.”