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Why Kenya’s August 8 poll winners will be determined by whoever bags most ‘swing’ votes

Women wait outside Kisumu Central constituency IEBC office on the last day of voter registration yesterday. [PHOTO: DENISH OCHIENG/STANDARD]

Voter registration came to a close yesterday, paving the way for a bruising battle for “swing” votes between Jubilee and the opposition.

The latest figures from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) show that at least 3.5 million Kenyans had listed as new voters as at February 14.

A study of the figures reveals that the perceived strongholds of both the opposition and Jubilee listed almost equal figures, with the opposition having a 58,000 head-start.

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Jubilee, in a campaign strategy document, listed 17 counties in Rift Valley and Central regions as its perceived strongholds.

The party also listed another 17 counties, mostly in the Nyanza, western, lower eastern, and Coast regions as opposition strongholds, categorising the remaining counties as battle grounds.

Jubilee is banking on votes from Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kiambu, Meru, Tharaka-Nithi, and Embu counties during the August 8 General Election.

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Other counties are Laikipia, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Nandi, Baringo, Kericho, Bomet, and West Pokot.

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The opposition will be counting on support in Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu, and Taita-Taveta.

Other counties listed as pro-opposition include Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma, and Busia.

Although Jubilee has listed Kisii, Nyamira, and Trans Nzoia as swing votes, the counties are largely gravitating towards the opposition.

A tally of figures from its perceived strongholds gives the opposition at least 1.4 million new voters against Jubilee’s 1.36 million.

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The figures leave at least 700,000 votes spread across counties perceived as battle grounds for the rival camps.

This means that the next polls will largely be determined by the swing regions.

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The battle grounds include Nairobi with 443,295 new voters. Other swing counties are Narok, Kajiado, Samburu, Isiolo, Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Lamu, and Marsabit counties.

Today the IEBC starts registration of Kenyan voters in Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Africa.

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