Residents of Ndhiwa line up to verify their voter registration details at Nyamanga Secondary School yesterday. Ndhiwa MP Agostino Neto and Homa Bay Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata were present. [PHOTO: JAMES OMORO/STANDARD]
A week to the close of voter registration, only 2.1 million voters have listed against a target of 6.1 million.
However, perceived Jubilee strongholds have recorded higher returns compared to their competitors in the Opposition.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) bosses yesterday appeared to have lost hope of achieving the target, despite setting out to reach more than 9 million with national identification cards but who are yet to register.
The commission told a press briefing that it had deployed all the resources for the exercise, stating that the reasons people were not turning out to register were beyond it and “could be political”.
But IEBC chairman Wafula Chepukati said the commission will not extend the exercise that closes on February 14, and urged those yet to register to do so in the remaining seven days.
The development comes as President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto’s perceived strongholds continued to maintain a lead over the Opposition areas in the listing that has been billed as a key determinant in the August 8 General Election.
Ruto’s home turf is leading after registering 497,313 new voters against a total target of 1,208,932, followed by Eastern region that has since added 348,977 new voters in the register.
Uhuru’s Central region is third after listing 318,457 in the last three weeks of the exercise.
Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s perceived strongholds of Nyanza and Coast have recorded 248,390 and 238,499 new voters against a combined target of 1,556,226.
Nairobi County is sixth after listing 251,054 voters against its target of 855,531 voters.
Despite having a total target of 742,041, Western region has only managed to add 185,683 new voters.
“The commission recorded 2,164,185 applicants for registration as voters in the third week of the month-long campaign. This is only half the weekly target (50.54 per cent),” said Chebukati.
The apathy in voter registration has gone against the campaign mounted by both the ruling Jubilee Party and the Opposition CORD.
Both Uhuru and Raila have led their brigades in urging their supporters to list, telling them that the polls would be won during the exercise.
IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba termed the low turn out “puzzling”.
He said the commission had enough reasons to set the 6.1 million target since there are over 9 million Kenyans with identification cards but not registered as voters.
“We have done our best to deploy resources. There could be some reasons for the low numbers that could be beyond the commission. They could be political issues,” said Chiloba.
“It is still a puzzle but we are still optimistic that the numbers will improve in the remaining one week,” he added.
And in an effort to shore the numbers in the remaining days, the commission will from today roll the exercise in universities and colleges.
“The commission plans to register the youth in institutions of higher learning from February 8 to 14. The target institutions are those with students from various parts of the country,” said Chebukati.
And between February 20 and 27, the commission will list prisoners in all the 118 prisons across the country. They will only participate in the presidential polls.
IEBC, however, dashed hopes of people in the diaspora wishing to participate in this year’s polls. The commission said changes in the electoral laws had made it practically impossible to have Kenyans outside African countries to participate in the elections.
Chebukati said that only Kenyans in Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and South Africa will participate in the polls.
“Considering the logistics and constraints of time, the commission saw it prudent and tenable to start with these countries. The law allows for progressive registration and voting by Kenyans in the Diaspora and more countries will be included in future,” said Chebukati.
On the issue of shared identification cards, the commission said that out of 128,926 voters reported as sharing identification numbers, a total of 50, 174 numbers were confirmed to be legitimate.
Consequently, the commission has published the remaining 78,752 voters with shared card numbers.
Out of the disputed cards, 21,149 records bear the same identification numbers and same names, while the other 57, 603 records the card numbers did not match the National Registration Bureau records.
The commission explained the anomalies could have been occasioned by the use of fingerprints as the only unique identify, stating it has since included identification numbers as unique identifiers to prevent use of same card by multiple voters.