By Koki Muli
According to the Constitution, every adult citizen has the right, without unreasonable restrictions to be registered as a voter and to vote by secret ballot in any election or referendum.
The Elections Act states that a citizen shall exercise the right to vote only if registered in the Principal Register of Voters (PRV).
This means that any one wishing to vote or participate in the electoral process must be registered as a voter by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), who shall prescribe what information shall be contained in the PRV and what documents shall be required for registration.
Registration of voters is necessary to enable a compilation of a current and comprehensive PRV to ensure that “ghosts” and people with multiple registrations aimed at fraud do not vote. This is why every voter is required to be registered in a particular polling station and constituency.
This will also ensure as much as possible, people vote in areas where they reside or work so that they can hold their elected representatives accountable and participate in governance, policy and decision making processes.
To apply for voter registration, you must show proof of identity. Proof of residence is also implied. The identity document required is either your original National Identity Card or a valid original National Passport – meaning you must prove you are also a Kenyan citizen.
The IEBC says they will conduct registration of voters using biometric equipment and software. This means that the PRV will contain the details and photographs of registered voters.
In the past, the Electoral Commission used to give a registered voter a voter’s card as proof of registration. In order to vote then, you needed your voter’s card together with the document you used to register, passport/ID card. This was because the PRV did not have photographs of the voters.
Now, we expect the PRV to have all our details and photographs. Furthermore, the IEBC plans to procure biometric equipment which will enable voters to be verified either through placing their fingers on the machine or through retinal recognition using your eyes in all the polling centres/stations.
Therefore, besides this elaborate and foolproof verification that you are indeed the registered voter whose picture also appears on the PRV, there should be no need for issuing a voter’s card.
This will enable the IEBC to save money of printing unnecessary voters’ cards. In addition, it will minimise incidences of fraud. In the past, the registration process was the main avenue of rigging an election; whereby corrupt officials were able to issue multiple voters cards and during elections, allowed multiple voting.
In some places, many people were allowed to vote even though they were not in the registers so long as they had voters cards and in others people were able to vote multiple times; even the dead voted.