Inside Politics

Leaders in new battle for 4.5m voters ahead of polls

Monday, January 17th, 2022 03:12 | By
IEBC officials during a past voter registration in Nyamira county. Photo/PD/File

The battle for 4.5 million eligible but unregistered voters resumes today with leading political figures pulling all stops to entice those in their strongholds to enrol with all eyes on the August 9 elections.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) today opens another window for unregistered voters to present themselves to be included in the final voting list for the coming elections.

Exercise to be conducted in all the 1,450 wards from January 17 to February 6 will be the last one.

The electoral agency will also conduct diaspora voter registration between January 21 and February 4 in the embassies in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Canada, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and South Sudan.

In 2017, IEBC started registering eligible voters within the East African Community and will continue doing so for this year’s election.  Leading politicians have asked those yet to get the voter’s card to do so in the three weeks, as they attempt to shore up their numbers ahead of an election that is expected to be hotly contested.

The exercise presents the top contenders another opportunity to ensure their strongholds report better performance unlike last time when most areas registered dismal figures. 

Last exercise

In the last exercise conducted between October 4 and November 5, IEBC registered a paltry 1,519,294 voters against a target of 6 million, raising fears of possible voter apathy in the coming elections.

From today, the electoral body will attempt once again to reach the remaining 4.5 million as it seeks to expand its voters’ list to more than 25 million.

So far, the body has close to 21.3 million voters inclusive of those who registered in the last exercise. Deputy President William Ruto, who is modelling his campaign around the bottom-up economic model targeting the youths, aims to reap from their bulging numbers and has asked them to register to vote.

Yesterday, he urged the young people to turn out in large numbers and register.

“This year’s election is yet another opportunity for the youth to liberate our country. This is because there is a direct relationship between your vote and your picture. Register now as a voter. Choose the right candidate in August,” said the DP.

Large numbers

ODM leader Raila Odinga is also seeking to ride on the Azimio La Umoja movement to State House and has asked the youth to embrace it. Raila has also implored upon the youth to ensure they register in large numbers if they wanted to enjoy its fruits.

One Kenya Alliance principals Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula, Gideon Moi and Cyrus Jirongo have also asked their supporters to ensure they are in the voters’ list come August.

At the same time, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has said chiefs and their assistants had been asked to comb villages to make sure all eligible citizens register within the period.

“We have discussed at length on how chiefs and their assistants will bring on board all relevant leaders including the Nyumba Kumi officials and village elders to ensure all eligible people in every part of their areas of jurisdiction are registered as voters,” said Matiang’i.

Speaking to the press at the Borabu Technical Training Institute in Nyamira county on Friday, the CS said they had consulted widely on how the government will support the mass voter registration.

He said thousands of ID cards remained uncollected but would locate their owners so they could register. He added that the National Government Administration Officers will assist in tracing them, including the 54,000 citizens in Nyanza region alone.

The CS said the national administration officials were more than ready to give all the necessary support on matters of security and protection to all political aspirants whenever they will be conducting their campaigns to publicise their political manifestos as long as they are not abusive or chaotic.

He further said they will support IEBC to conduct credible and peaceful elections. Leaders yesterday beseeched their supporters. Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga yesterday asked local political leaders to unite to mobilise eligible residents to register as voters.

Wanga said a number of youths who were targeted by IEBC during the first phase of Enhanced Continuous Voter Registration failed to get registered because they lacked IDs. The county failed to reach the IEBC target of at least 156,000 people after registering around 80,000 people in the previous mass voter listing.

Wanga urged elected leaders to take advantage of the registration window and mobilise residents to enlist as voters.

“It is high time as leaders we forged unity and mobilised every qualified person to register as a voter. Modalities are in place to get our youths IDs and register with IEBC before the deadline,” Wanga said during a meeting with supporters at Kilusi village in Kabondo Kasipul constituency at the weekend. The legislator said they are ready to facilitate the distribution of uncollected IDs so that their owners can get them in time to enable their voter registration.

Only weapon

Kangundo MP Fabian Kyule has also urged residents in Ukambani region to turn up in large numbers and register as voters.

Kyule said the voter’s card was the only weapon they could use to change the country’s leadership.

Speaking yesterday at Katheini trading centre in his constituency, after he started a mobilisation campaign ahead of mass voter registration that kicks off today, Kyule said he decided to undertake the campaign in order to ensure the majority are registered as voters.

He also asked the government to issue national IDs to eligible youth to enable them to register.

“I am calling on residents in the Ukambani region to shun divisive politics and register in large numbers as voters to enable the commission to reach its target in the region,” the MP said.

He told the youth to avoid being used by politicians to cause violence during ongoing campaigns.

Kyule also asked aspirants in the country not to invite youth to violence but convince them to register as voters. Young professionals from Nyanza have launched a massive voter listing drive and thrown their weight behind ODM leader Raila Odinga’s bid for President.

Speaking at Grace Onyango Social hall in Kisumu, the youth, led by Chairman Jimmy Magero and Secretary-General George Abwajo appealed to the youths to register in large numbers. The professionals decried voter apathy, noting that the majority of potential voters had not yet registered.
Abwajo said only 41,000 registered in the recent exercise against a target of 160,000.

Magero said there were thousands of uncollected ID cards, which they have been told to find their owners and ask them to register.

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