IEBC concerned over low turnout in voter registration

Interim Election and Boundary Committee returning officer Wilson Wambugu (right),explaining to Kieni MP Kanini Kega (in red) on how voter registration exercise is going on in his constituency. PHOTO:KIBATA KIHU/STANDARD.

The electoral agency has raised concern over the low turnout of Kenyans registering as voters across the country.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Regional Co-ordinator for Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Nyandarua counties, John Mwangi, said only six per cent of the targeted number of new voters had registered in the three regions since the exercise started one week ago.

IEBC intends to register eight million new voters before the next General Election in 2017.

Last week, the electoral body kicked off a 30-day campaign to register at least four million voters in the first phase of the exercise.

Mr Mwangi said in Nyandarua County, IEBC was intending to register 147,882 new voters by 2017. He noted that in the first phase, the commission was targeting 73,955 voters but in one week, only 5,020 voters had registered.

“Out of our target of 73,955, only 5,020 Kenyans have turned up registration,” he said, adding: “In Nyeri, out of 102,954 targeted voters, only 5,875 people registered.”

He also noted that in Kirinyaga County, only 4,592 out of 76,639 voters registered in the first week.

“If this trend continues, we expect that only 30 per cent of the targeted voters will have registered by the end of our campaign on March 15 and this is very low voter turnout,” Mwangi said.

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IEBC commissioner Muthoni Wangai said the commission was relying on data from the national census and was estimating the number of potential voters based on the number of people who were registered by the National Identification Bureau.

“According to our data since 2012, the number of Kenyans who attained the age of 18 and were registered by the National Identification Bureau are 11.4 million. However, our priority is to register at least eight million as voters,” she said.

Local leaders have vowed to mobilise Kenyans to register as voters by organising events and rallies to encourage more youth.

In Kieni Constituency, only 1,587 voters have been registered out of a potential 47,381 voters.

Area MP Kanini Kega has started using sports tournaments to educate youth on the importance to register.

Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando has also called on youths to register after it emerged that only 847 locals out of a target of 12,317 registered as voters.