All forms of voter registration will end on February 14, electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati has said, dashing the hopes of politicians planning to get more voters registered via the continuous registration provided for in the law.
Mr Chebukati told MPs at the meeting of the leadership of the National Assembly in Mombasa that the closure is necessary to give the commission time to audit the register and clean it up in preparation for the General Election.
Under the Elections Act, the register of voters should be ready 90 days to the date of the elections – May 8.
“My understanding of the law is that prior to the 90 days, we should do all these processes. I am aware that out there, people are registering two times because of all this transfer business,” said Mr Chebukati.
His assertion caused some confusion among MPs present as they were under the impression that the continuous voter registration at the IEBC constituency offices and Huduma Centres would continue.
“What you are engaging in is mass registration. After the 14th, it would still be lawful to continue with registration as the law says it should end 90 days to the elections,” said Githunguri MP Njoroge Baiya. Mr Baiya is also the chairman of the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee.
Mr Chebukati said the same Elections Law makes it mandatory for the voters’ register to be audited, voters to verify their information and for the final list of voters to be known at least 90 days to the elections. “We don’t have time. The committee needs sufficient time to look at the register,” he added.
The newly-appointed chairman said only Kenyans in the Diaspora and prisoners would be registered after the Valentines’ Day deadline.
He also presented to MPs the IEBC’s new timeline of events in preparation for the polls, among which is the deadline for parties to submit the lists of their members to the IEBC – That is March 19.
Despite having passed the law last year, some MPs were surprised when Mr Chebukati told them: “You cannot move to another party after we receive the party membership lists.”
Nominations are scheduled to take place between April 13 and 26, which means that aspirants will not have the opportunity to shift parties after nominations as was the case in 2013.
The changes were meant to restrict party-hopping and were pushed by the heads of the coalitions as a way of “locking in” supporters and in effect votes in the race to get a majority in the Houses of Parliament.