Eye on numbers as IEBC kicks off voter registration

Monday, October 4th, 2021 00:00 |
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati. Photo/File

Noah Cheploen and Kepher Otieno

 Preparations for the 2022 General Election go a notch higher this morning as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) launches countrywide mass voter registration in Nakuru, targeting six million new voters.

Coming in the backdrop of renewed calls and mobilisation by politicians to ramp up their voter blocs ahead of elections, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati will launch the campaign at the Nakuru Athletic Club.

In a press conference last month, Chebukati urged Kenyans who are eligible to vote to take advantage of the enhanced nationwide continuous voter registration by turning up in large numbers

“I urge all eligible Kenyans, who have not registered as voters, to turn up in large numbers and register,” he said during the swearing in of new commissioners.

The new commissioners are: Juliana Cherera, Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit and Justus Nyang’aya.

Their hiring now brings to an end speculations and controversies that have marred the electoral body since 2017 that saw some commissioners quit in a huff.  

Chebukati has assured Kenyans that IEBC is ready to conduct a free, fair and transparent election saying the commission is up to the task.

“The Commission would like to assure the public and all stakeholders that it will continue working as a team to deliver a credible 2022 General Election,” he said.

Former IEBC vice-chairperson Lilian Mahiri-Zaja told People Daily yesterday that the six million voters IEBC expects to register would be a game changer in next year’s polls.

Zaja said the numbers are significant as they will impact on the 50 plus one vote required for any candidate to win the presidential race as well as ensure that parties have significant numbers in Parliament.

“When it comes to elections, numbers are significant because for any party to have significant numbers in the House and bridge the 50 plus one vote this is all about numbers, the more you get the more your chances of winning are. It is a matter of galvanising votes,” she said.

 Adding: “This exercise is important, remember IEBC has announced they need to register six million voters which is a very huge figure and that is why they are targeting youths who have attained the age of 18 and are now young adults. This is an exercise that every politician would want to take part in.”

At the same time, politicians across the divide and of different cadres renewed calls for Kenyans who have not been registered to avail themselves for registration to ensure they participate in next year’s polls.

Buoyed by the victory in the last elections where Jubilee strongholds registered overwhelmingly, Deputy President William Ruto is urging young people to claim their stake by registering as voters.

Collect IDs

Yesterday, Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya rallied youths to register as voters as possible.

A pointer to the importance of having as many new voters register in the process as possible.

 “I want to tell all youths, from tomorrow (Monday), all of you who do not have a voter card and we have about six  million of you, for you to get jobs, and thrive in business this will depend on how you will vote next year. So please take a voter’s card to be able to determine your future’s destiny,” Ruto said.

“I am the DP right now, and I am not stupid or mad, I know what I am saying, this Kenya we shall start changing from bottom going to the top, we will start with our youths.

You are the ones who will vote next year to decide the government that you want to be in place, the one that will prioritise putting food on the table or the one that is interested in sharing positions?” he said in Kisii county.

Speaking at Redeemed Gospel Church in Nairobi, Mudavadi urged religious leaders to encourage young people to come out in large numbers and register as voters.

“The youth should grab the opportunity now and register in big numbers and be part of the democratic process of electing their leaders.

I present myself for that challenge of reviving our economy and I want to urge  Kenyans of goodwill to walk with me in this journey of reviving and building our nation,” he said.

Raila and Oparanya were concerned about millions of eligible voters who shy from the ballot, yet their votes were crucial in decision making.

They asked the eligible voters to take IDs and prepare to vote come the 2022 General Election.

“I am appealing to the youth who have not yet registered for elections to do so in readiness for the new transitional elections due next year,’’ said Raila at the weekend.

The two asked the youth to take advantage of the new voter listing drive to be launched today by IEBC to register for elections. 

They also urged those who have not yet collected ID cards to go for them and register as soon as possible so that they are not locked out of the 2022 ballot decision.

“This is because elections, political participation and competition are needed for democracy.

Balloting in the only way to ensure checks on executive power and civil rights,” said Oparanya

The governor said a free media and active civil society must continue playing the oversight role.

“This includes keeping electoral institutions such as IEBC honest and true to its work as well as keeping people informed. This will ensure a robust electoral democracy,” Oparanya said

In a meeting chaired by Raila last week, ODM’s Central Committee called upon IEBC to allocate sufficient resources—both human and material—to ensure the exercise is a success.

“On the upcoming mass voter registration by the IEBC, we would like to call upon the commission to deploy sufficient resources both human and material in order for the exercise to be successful,” ODM said in a statement.

Deploy resources

The ODM party claimed that more than half of the targeted number of new voters lies in areas they consider as their strongholds such Nyanza, Western, Coast and Nairobi. 

“We implore the IEBC to deploy commensurate resources in those regions,” the party said.   The party also urged officials across all levels to mobilise supporters to avail themselves for registration especially in the grassroots.

“We urge all party leaders at the grassroots and all members elected and nominated on the party ticket to now retreat to their respective areas to coordinate and support voter registration and mobilise people to collect their identity cards for purposes of voter registration.”

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr also urged residents to register as voters so as to “increase numbers and enable Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka to clinch the presidency.”

Speaking at Ngonda village in Matungulu constituency, during the burial of Machakos County Senator Agnes Kavindu’s brother Martin Nzau, Kilonzo said the battle on who becomes president next year will be determined by numbers.

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