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Pollster to probe apathy puzzle

By Kepher Otieno | Published Mon, June 19th 2017 at 00:00, Updated June 18th 2017 at 20:37 GMT +3
Ipsos Synovate lead researcher Thomas Wolf. (Photo: File/Standard)

Opinion pollsters are concerned that only a third of Kenya’s eligible voters registered to participate in the August polls.

They say it is baffling that only 19 million have registered as voters in the country out of the possible 28 million eligible voters, going by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) data.

According to Ipsos Synovate lead researcher Thomas Wolf, politicians ought to be concerned that such a huge number is not keen to participate in the polls.

The firm is conducting a survey to find out why some Kenyans shy away from the ballot.

‘’We have asked IEBC to give us the statistics that will inform our polling,’’ said Dr Wolf.

Wolf, who has been consistent in predicting the outcome of previous general elections in Kenya, described current voter apathy as “perturbing”.

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His sentiments were echoed by Rose Otieno from Masinde Muliro University, who suggested that voting be made mandatory for all eligible Kenyans.

“That will ensure an inclusive approach and promote democracy as opposed to the current situation where 51 per cent majority decide on behalf another 49 per cent,” Dr Otieno said.

They were speaking on the sidelines of The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship programme in Kisumu, where participants put the researcher to task to explain how his firm arrives at its opinion poll results.

Some participants questioned the rationale of “provoking opinion survey results” and methods used to sample respondents. Wolf conceded that releasing political opinion poll results required a high degree of professionalism to avoid stoking negative emotions. “Sometimes when someone loses with a huge gap and this is portrayed in the media, they may lose critical funding. So the polls must be very credible,’’ he said.

He said the firm was non-partisan, objective and in some cases, it declined requests to conduct opinion polls.