SECTIONS

Jubilee strongholds record highest number of new voters

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati (left) and commission CEO Ezra Chiloba brief the media on the ongoing registration of new voters yesterday. [PHOTO: David Gichuru/Standard]

Perceived Jubilee strongholds have recorded the highest number of new voters in the ongoing voter listing.

The development suggests the campaigns by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto could be bearing fruit.

Figures released by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on statistics of the second week of mass voter registration give the Jubilee strongholds of Central and Rift Valley a healthy lead in numbers, compared to the Opposition strongholds.

Central leads the regions in the turnout, recording 74.4 per cent of the targeted new voters in the region, with the five counties in the area enlisting 238,568 new voters.

President Kenyatta had camped in the area mobilising residents, a sign that he is counting on the turnout from the stronghold to ensure his re-election in the August 8 General Election.

RIFT VALLEY

And while Uhuru was camping in Central Kenya, Ruto settled in his voter-rich Rift Valley region whose turnout IEBC revealed returned 61.7 per cent.

Overall, the region has in the two weeks topped-up its basket with 348,251 new voters.

The electoral body estimated that by the close of last week, 564,168 would have been registered from the area.

On the contrary, CORD and by extension National Super Alliance (NASA) strongholds of Nyanza and Western continued to record lower turnouts with figures released indicating that the two areas returned 45.2 and 38.8 per cent respectively.

CORD leader Raila Odinga was last week protesting that leaders in the region were not doing enough to encourage those who had obtained identity cards to turn up and register, and the new figures seem to justify his position.

Nyanza, the backyard of Raila, has so far registered 180,208 voters against the IEBC projection of 398,617, while Western, where two of NASA leaders - Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula - hail from, has enlisted 134,246.

IEBC expected to net 346,286 from the region.

Commission chairperson Wafula Chebukati announced that they had so far listed 1,539,879 new voters, 53.9 per cent of their projected target of 2,854,731.

“The figure is 25.2 per cent of our overall target of 6.1 million voters. It shows that there is still much work to be done if we are to meet our targets,” said Chebukati.

BETTER TURNOUT

Even in regions such as Eastern where both Jubilee and NASA share the support base, counties perceived to support Uhuru and Ruto – Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi - returned better turnout compared to counties under Ukambani, the stronghold of former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, another of key NASA leader.

In Ukambani, only Machakos had managed a return of over 50 per cent of its targeted voters as IEBC managed to capture 46,089 new voters, reflecting a 59.1 per cent turnout.

Makueni and Kitui counties returned 48.1 and 42.8 percent respectively.

Comparatively, Meru returned 66.1 per cent listing 67,665 new voters with Embu and Tharaka Nithi generating 52.9 and 52.3 per cent of their targets respectively.

Nairobi leads on the list of top 10 counties that have registered the highest numbers with 182,265 so far having been registered.

However, the figure is only 45.7 per cent of the projections.

Others in the category are Kiambu (106,223), Nakuru (77,970), Meru (67,665), Mombasa (55,967), Kilifi (54,692), Murang’a (47,497), Machakos (46,089) and Kisumu (38,739).

HIGH POTENTIAL

Chebukati, who was flanked by Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba, said the electoral body was concerned that some counties with high populations had not responded to the expectations.

“We are concerned that counties such as Vihiga, Nyeri, Kisii, Kericho, Kakamega, Bungoma, Siaya and Kitui, with high potential voting population exceeding 100,000 are below 20 per cent of their targets,” said Chebukati, even as he rallied leaders from these areas to work with IEBC staff to shore up the numbers.

Despite the challenges of drought and hunger that have forced many voters to relocate from their areas, IEBC figures revealed Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Tana River counties are among the top 10 performing counties according to the percentages they posted.

Kajiado county leads in this cluster, having attained 92 per cent of the targets with 30,766 of the 33,282 registered.

Mandera is second with 43 per cent, same as Kirinyaga. Others in the top 10 are Kiambu, Murang’a, Narok, Nakuru, Wajir, Tana River and Garissa.

Chebukati revealed they had allowed the registration clerks in areas ravaged by drought to move around the constituencies registering those who are leaving their homes in search of pastures for their animals, but ensure the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) machines do not go past the constituency boundaries.