Inside Politics

Politicians ramp up final voter listing efforts

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022 00:00 | By
University of Nairobi students register as voters recently at the institution during the official launch of the registration drive in institutions of higher learning. PD/JOHN OCHIENG

By People Team

Alarmed by extremely low voter registration turn out, politicians are pulling all stops to shore up the numbers. With 12 days to go before the final mass voter registration closes, IEBC only managed to register a paltry 230,000 against a target of 4.5 million potential voters.

Politicians and members of the provincial administration have activated their troops to ensure wananchi register, especially in areas leaning towards Raila Odinga’s Azimio movement.

Ruth Odinga, Raila’s sister who is coordinating the voter registration in Nyanza, yesterday decried low voter turnout, urging the youth to register in large numbers.

Ruth also called on all aspirants to suspend their campaigns and other political activities and focus on the voter registration drive.

“We want people to concentrate on voter listing and stop this election campaign’s mantra in the meantime,’’ Ruth said.

Yesterday, ODM chair of Elections Board, Prof Catherine Mumma, also pitched tent in Nyanza to woo voters to register. On Monday, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o gave county workers two days off to search and convince family members and friends to be enlisted.

The governor said he took the bold initiative to ensure everyone eligible registers in the county. “We want to make sure that everyone eligible to vote is listed for elections, if we are to realise democratic growth,” he declared.

Nyong’o met all the county employees and tasked each of the workers to retreat to their respective wards and villages to spearhead the campaign.

“It’s a civic duty for all Kenyans to register as voters to enable them to exercise their democratic rights during the forthcoming August General Election,” he said.

The governor said he made the decision after learning that few people were turning up to register as voters. “The numbers are disappointing. Our people must come out and register as voters,” said the governor.

According to County IEBC Coordinator Patrick Odame, they expect to register 130,105 in the second voter listing mass exercise that began last week on Monday. In the last registration, the county only registered 44,666 of the targeted 173,474.

The development comes as the Kisumu County Commissioner led by Madam Josephine Ouko traversed the villages supervising the exercise. Ouko said they want the chiefs and assistants to help flush out people to go register.

In Siaya, Bondo Deputy County Commissioner Richard Karani said those who failed to register will be denied government services.

The DCC directed matatu and boda boda operators, hospitals and supermarkets to not serve people who have not registered to vote or those without ID cards.

“I have come from Kilifi and would not joke about my duties and one of it is to ensure persons lacking the vital documents acquire it or else we won’t give you services,” said Karani.

Stakeholders Speaking during a meeting with Bondo community stakeholders Karani said those lacking the documents are a burden to society.

“We won’t allow busy bodies to take us for a ride. I have been issued with a target from the government in regards to ID and voter cards registration and will use every strategy at my disposal to realise it. This time round it will not be business as usual.”

The DCC was accompanied by Eala MP Oburu Oginga and Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda. “Raila risks losing the seat again if Kenyans especially in Luo Nyanza and Siaya do not respond to the registration of voters. Raila has a better chance to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta and he can only achieve it if most Kenyans vote him at the ballot box,” said Oburu.

IEBC Bondo coordinator JohnMatekwa said out of a target of 18,000 only 1,600 have so far registered. In Kajiado county, out of the 90,000 target, only 5,376 new voters have registered with Kajiado West having the lowest figure of 643. County elections manager Anthony Njoroge attributed the low numbers to apathy and the last-minute rush behavior.

“However, we are putting strategies in place to ensure we reach our targets. We are carrying out voter education to let the people know the importance of voting and together with the public administration we are creating awareness of the ongoing exercise,” Njoroge said.

In Kisii, leaders have deplored slow voter registration in the area, two weeks to the close of the registration. Governor James Ongwae, Woman Representative Janet Ong’era, Deputy Governor Joash Maangi, Transport and Infrastructure CAS Chris Obure, former South Mugirango MP Manson Oyongo and Senator Sam Ongeri spoke at Agricultural Training Centre on Monday during the launch of Kisii Azimio la Umoja Chapter.

Ongwae said the county targets to register 110,000 voters but only 7,903 had registered, stressing the trend was worrying.

Drumming up support for Raila’s presidential bid, the leaders urged residents to register en masse to enable Raila win the presidency. “I urge leaders to intensify voter registration campaigns in their localities to enable potential voters to register to increase our numbers,” Ongwae said.

Challenged to register Obure said the community has more locally and in the diaspora and challenged them to register and vote overwhelmingly for Raila to win.

Kisii Central Deputy County Commissioner Wilberforce Kilonzo said they had launched a campaign on Monday to enable youths to get IDs and register as voters, adding the exercise ends on Thursday.

Leaders in Mombasa are startled by low turnouts in the ongoing final phase of voter registration.

According to IEBC figures, Mombasa registered 7,833 new voters in the first week against the targeted 45,682. In an interview with People Daily yesterday, Jomvu MP Badi Twalib said the disinterest was a concern.

“For sure this trend is shocking…as leaders, we have tried all we can to mobilise residents to register but only a few are turning up to register,” Twalib said while appealing for residents to register in large numbers.

In Migori, only 6,841 have registered against a target of 110,000. However, IEBC Coordinator for Suna East Kennedy Okoth said the turnout was slowly picking up.

“Our set target for the second phrase of voter registration in Migori is 110,000. If we have to achieve this set target, then we need to be registering at least 5,238 voters every day for the next 21 days.”

Reporting by Eric Juma, Kepher Otieno,Wycliff Kipsang, Robert Ochoro and Reuben Mwambingu

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