An inmate in handcuffs at Kodiaga main prison in Kisumu County has his finger prints taken during registration as voter on February 23, 2017. (PHOTO: DENISH OCHIENG/ STANDARD)
The electoral agency will provide political parties with an interim voter register ahead of their primaries.
This is likely to reduce cases of electoral fraud, but the move exposes the commission to legal pitfalls as there is no law permitting release of an incomplete register to political parties.
The agency bowed to pressure from National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and said the register would be provided to political parties upon request, and “at the political parties’ own risk”.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati told the committee that the first draft of the register would be made available to political parties from March 31 in readiness for party primaries between April 13 and April 26.
“Our first draft will be ready by March 31. When it comes, you will get a draft, but any political party that is going to rely on the register will only do so at their own risk,” said Mr Chebukati.
This means IEBC has washed its hands off any disputes arising out of an incomplete register. The register is currently being cleaned-up.
Members pushing IEBC to release the interim register argued that political parties had no polling station data for their members, making it easy for members to cast ballots at multiple stations and opening the door for massive rigging and disputes during the primaries.
“We want the register for purposes of polling. We want to marry the polling stations in the IEBC register with the political parties’ membership lists… It will enable us identify people in a polling station. Political parties do not have polling stations, it is IEBC that has them. As Jubilee, we have given out membership cards to many people all over,” argued committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi).
Priscilla Nyokabi (Nyeri) warned that lack of a register “is going to be very dangerous for this country” as political parties had nothing to rely on during their primaries.
She noted that a credible election begin at nomination stage.
“We are doing our best to have a credible election. Without a voter register from IEBC, we are going to have so many disputes in the party primaries. Since you have finished with vote registration, it is possible to have an interim register so that political parties have something to rely on… if you do not provide the register, we will fall into disputes,” added Ms Nyokabi.
Although the law states that IEBC is under obligation to conduct party primaries upon request, the commission, in its regulations, has indicated it would only provide technical support for the exercise.