NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) says it is currently carrying out continuous voter registration as required by law.
According to the IEBC’s Communications and Corporate Affairs Manager, Tabitha Mutemi, the exercise aims to list those who were not registered ahead of last year’s March 4 General Election.
Mutemi explained that the exercise further seeks to clean up the register by removing voters who have passed on and also give voters a chance to transfer their voting details to new stations of their choice.
“We are running continuous registration until 2017 so people are coming at their will, it is not fresh voter registration. The fresh registration takes place in intervals of not less than eight years and not more than 12 years.”
“Who we are targeting in this are those who newly acquired their identification cards thus allowing them to be registered prior to the elections. The second group is those who did not have identification cards by the time we were registering people for the last election and to this group, I urge that if you have not picked your ID then make a point of doing so.”
“The next group that we are targeting in this registration process is those who want to change the place they vote to a new location. This group needs to report to a commission officer at the registration offices at their county and make the changes.”
“Finally this exercise will also see a clean up of the current voter registers… we will remove the persons who are deceased so that we can ensure that our registers are up to date,” Mutemi explained.
She said that the registration will however not be carried out in areas that have pending by-elections.
She asked politicians to refrain from whining after losing an election but instead encourage their voters to participate in the registration.
“Politicians who lost in the last General Election instead of complaining, they ought to encourage and ensure that their supporters are registered in this process.”
“They have ample time to mobilise their people in the areas that they come from,” she added.
Mutemi further defended the commission in regard to election petitions that have been seemingly recurrent.
“Out of the 1,882 elective positions we had in 2013 we only had 188 petitions and further out of these, 163 were thrown out leaving about 25. This translated into less than one percent, giving the commission a success rate of over 90 percent.”
“The fact that you feel aggrieved does not mean that you are. This means that the integrity of the vote in 2013 was not compromised and the commission did a good job,” she observed.
The commission was last Tuesday at pains to explain to a parliamentary committee why it had been conducting what appeared like ‘low-key’ nationwide voter registration for the last one month.
This emerged as IEBC officials were meeting the House team on Justice and Legal Affairs to request for allocation of more funds in the 2014/15 budget.
IEBC Acting CEO Betty Sungura-Nyabuto told the committee led by Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga that the exercise has been running since April 15 and will close on June 30.
“The continuous voter registration which is part of our mandate is ongoing. We didn’t sensationalise this whole exercise and we tried as much as possible to use these dismal funds to sensitise members of the public who did not register prior to the General Election to now come and register,” said the IEBC official.
Commission Vice-Chairman Lilian Mahiri-Zaja explained that they took the decision after realising that the Sh18 million which had been left after the 2013 poll was not sufficient to roll out the exercise to the ward level as well as place advertisements in the media.
This prompted protests from Chepkonga, Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang, Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma and Githunguri MP Njoroge Baiya who questioned the IEBC’s decision to handle the registration in such a manner, with some MPs offering to allow them to address a press conference at Parliament’s Media Centre (Only MPs can address the media within Parliament’s precincts) to announce to the general public the voter registration exercise.
The committee members also encouraged Mahiri-Zaja to take advantage of the MPs’ reach to spread the word.
“I don’t understand why you decided to conduct the exercise in such a low key or rather secretive manner,” Chepkonga said; “If you would have let us know, we would have announced at every baraza that we addressed over the weekend.”