Why August General Election will have longest ballot paper in history

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati addressing the media on preparation of the Register of voters as the country prepares for the August General election. With him is commisioner Dr. Roselyne Akombe at their Anniversssary Towers office. ON 05/04/2017 PHOTO; JENIPHER WACHIE.

Kenyans who turn up at some polling stations on August 8 will have to search through a scroll-like document before casting their vote as they will be reading through the longest ballot paper in the country’s history.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) released the official list of candidates for various seats on Tuesday, bringing to the fore some of the challenges some voters will encounter.

The ballot paper for the Member of the County Assembly (MCA) seat in Borabu Chitago ward, Kisii County, will be the longest as the position has attracted a record 33 candidates, meaning IEBC will have to produce ballot papers the size of a scroll to fit all the names.

Apart from the names of candidates, their images and party symbols are required on the ballot paper.

After marking a ballot paper, a voter is required to fold the vote and drop it in a ballot box.

In Ekerenyo ward, Nyamira County, voters will receive the second longest ballot paper in the country, as the race for MCA seats has attracted 27 candidates.

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Voters in Gesusu ward, Kisii County, will face similar challenges as they elect an MCA from a pool of 25 candidates.

At constituency level, Lang’ata in Nairobi will have the longest ballot paper as the race for the august House has attracted 17 candidates.

Dagoretti North, Tetu and Webuye West are close behind, with each having 16 individuals interested in representing residents. Mt Elgon and Bomachoge have 15 candidates each.

Yesterday, IEBC downplayed fears of a logistical nightmare, saying they were well prepared for any challenges that may emerge.

Only concern

Commissioner Roselyne Akombe told The Standard that the commission did not consider the high number of candidates a challenge. But she admitted that their only concern was the time some voters would take to pick their preferred candidates.

“Our other fear is that a long ballot paper may cause confusion and lead to several spoiled votes, especially among the elderly and the uneducated if they are not guided,” she said, adding that there was no fear of cost impacts as that was catered for in the budget.

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“We have consequently intensified our voter education targeting those areas with high number of candidates so we can educate and prepare voters to handle the ballot and pick their candidates.”

With nine aspirants, Nyamira is the county with the highest number of individuals seeking the governor’s seat. Nairobi, Taita Taveta and Kisii each have eight candidates, and Isiolo and Busia have seven each.

Kisii, Embu and Vihiga each have 12 candidates for the woman representative position, the highest in the country.

Some 14,523 aspirants will be battling to fill the various political seats.

Of these, eight will be going for the presidency and 210 will contest for governorships across all 47 counties.

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