Third Eye

Teach new voters on importance of ballot

Monday, October 4th, 2021 00:00 |
IEBC officers count ballots. Photo/PD/ROBERT OCHORO

The national polls agency will today kick-start one of the most significant steps in preparation for next year’s General Election.

So far there are impressive signs that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is determined to get it right, building on the lessons learnt from the nullified 2017 presidential election.

The commission will roll out countrywide voter registration mainly targeting a new generation of first-time voters. 

The voter’s card is a critical document which gives citizens tools for political decision- making and promotes democracy.

Article 1, of the 2010 Constitution is clear that all sovereign power belongs to the people which they can exercise directly or through their elected representatives. This is what elections accord them. 

The Constitution is also candid on the conduct of elections placing a particular emphasis on the role of the IEBC.

The polls must be credible, transparent and supported with modern technology.

If the standards set by the Supreme Court in the historic 2017 decisions are anything to go by, the commission must conduct continuous voter registration, civic education in a manner that involves the people.

But the tendency has always been that there is usually very little or no voter education with the majority of the voting population left to its own devices.

This is worrisome, especially in an environment where politicians exploit the base instincts, vulnerabilities and naiveties of uneducated and poor people to gain support.

The direct consequence of this is that critical decision making on political leadership is left in the hands of ignorant people.

Their vote at the end of the day cannot be said to be informed but with far-reaching consequences.

That is why voter education should be a critical pillar in our democratic process.

We expect political parties to also play a central role in voter education as well as other stakeholders in the election process.

We are particularly concerned about the more than 6 million new voters, a largely politically naïve group who will be going to the ballot box next year.

The onus is on every Kenyan to scrutinise candidates and parties and discern which is the best.

The parties have the responsibility of selling their agenda but more often they lace it with untruths and propaganda.

Everyone involved in the electioneering business must make it a duty to teach voters on how to make the right decision. Even then, we ask every Kenyan to obtain a voter’s card.

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