The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has started voter education drive it says is aimed at reducing the number of spoilt votes in next month’s General Election.
At least 2,900 ward-based voter educators who were hired on June 30 are traversing wards, teaching Kenyans how electronic identification of voters and results transmission will work on the election day.
IEBC has also resorted to use of live television interviews to explain the voting process to Kenyans.
Out of the 12.3 million votes cast in the 2013 polls, 108,975 were rejected — a small yet critical number the commission is trying to address.
On Tuesday, IEBC commissioner Roselyne Akombe said the voter education was continuous. “We had a phase that began with the last mass voter registration. It preceded the verification of the voter register,” said Dr Akombe.
“The current phase started in June with 2, 900 educators — two per ward — who will conduct voter education until August 5,” she added.
Speaking at the Nation Media Group Leadership Forum last month, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said that an aggressive voter education strategy was the only way of treating voter apathy among new voters and the issue of spoilt votes.
The forum tackled a number of key issues such as the state of security in the country prior to and during the elections, the impact of the polls on the private sector, restoring voter confidence, corruption, among others.
To reach the 9.9 million youth in the voters’ roll, Dr Akombe said the commission had launched a social media programme dubbed ‘Y-Vote” targeting 17 counties. It is supported by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
In the past two weeks, the commission has done simulation of voting on polling day live on three TV stations, with more planned in the coming week, said Dr Akombe.
But in their monthly report dubbed “Ready or Not?” civil society groups faulted the late rollout, lack of funding and what they said was lack of structures of meetings at the wards. “IEBC must urgently prioritise voter education by assisting ward-based educators with guidance and funding to create a systematic method to reach as many people as possible,” the report dated June 2017 reads.
On Tuesday, National Council of Churches of Kenya Secretary-General Canon Peter Karanja expressed his dissatisfaction with the level at which IEBC has so far carried out civic education.
Canon Karanja said the commission must intensify civic education within in the days to the elections, saying many people are still ignorant about a number of issues.
On Monday, Dr Akombe defended the commission’s TV interviews approach. “We want to explain the process to everyone. If we will be called vocal for it, so be it. But you cannot be saying the other commissioners did not disseminate information and then criticise us when we do exactly what you faulted them for,” she said at a Mkenya Daima breakfast meeting.
ODM party leader criticises President for failing to attend presidential candidates’ debate.