Fears over poor voter education

The civil society has warned that lack of civic education could jolt the General Election. The groups said the polls could witness massive irregularities since the voters were yet to be sensitised on election procedures and their rights to vote.

The more than 200 voter education providers accredited by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to support its 2,900 officials undertaking civic education, argued that a decline in voter participation in electoral processes points to a democracy deficit.

They said due to poor awareness, the General Election could be marred by low voter turnout and a higher number of spoilt votes.

They said the situation could predispose many Kenyans to voter manipulation if the situation is not fixed.

“The low civic education means the public will not be well informed about elections. Every five years, new young voters are registered and must be educated on the electoral process,” said Executive Director of Haki Africa (Kenya) Hussein Khalid.

The groups blamed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government for strict guidelines on NGO funding.

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“Things are a little different in this election. Voter educators are questioned by authorities all the time. This amounts to intimidation. They must produce a lot of documentation before being cleared to educate the public,” said Uraia, another civil society organisation.

Last year, the government blocked a Sh2 billion civic education programme fund by the US through International Foundation for Electoral Systems, an NGO dubbed the Kenya Electoral Assistance programme, KEAP 2017.

According to IEBC’s Voter Education and Partnership Director Rasi Masudi, Sh1.4 billion had been set aside for voter education, an exercise complemented by other organisations.

“We have 5.2 million new voters being the youth who need to be educated,” he said.

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