SECTIONS

Low voter turnout in Kakamega, Mombasa despite public holiday

Some of the residents enjoying themselves at Nyali Beach in Mombasa County on Monday, August 29, 2022, after casting their ballots. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The rescheduled elections experienced a very low voter turnout despite the government declaring a public holiday in the affected areas.

Instead of exercising their right in electing their representatives, most voters opted to stay indoors while some went on with their daily chores as they kept off polling centres.

It is a situation that was witnessed in all the eight elective seats whose election had been postponed by the electoral commission due to a mix-up of ballot papers.

“The election date was not well thought out because most employers pay salaries on the last day of the month and we took our children back to school the other day and did not save any cash to cater for bus fare to the voting centre,” said Abdallah Mohammed who lives in Nairobi but votes in Mombasa County.

In the Mombasa governor election, turnout across the six sub-counties was also low with most people opting to go relax at the beach.

At Pirates and Nyali beach, hundreds of people thronged to have a good time and swim from noon hours to late in the evening.

Coming to the beach

Daniel Karisa a swimming instructor at the beach said people began coming to the beach as early as 11 am.

In the Kakamega gubernatorial race, outgoing Governor Wycliffe Oparanya decried a low voter turnout but was confident that the ODM candidate would carry the day.

“The turnout is typical of a by-election,” he said.

Robinson Machengo, IEBC returning officer at Ebukwala Primary school in Khwisero said just a handful of people had visited the polling station to cast their votes.

“We opened this polling station at 6.07 am but we have witnessed low numbers of voters,” he said.

Other candidates complained of technical hitches that caused some KIEMs gadgets not to function as expected.

Kanu candidate Suleiman Sumba who voted at Mumias Township Primary school polling station complained that some of the KIEMs kits were not functioning hence delaying voting.

Cases of KIEMS kit failure were also reported in Kakamega North.  “I have witnessed such cases in Manda/Shibanga ward where the KIEMs kits failed,” said Beatrice Inyangala, Senator Cleophas Malala’s running mate.

Malala, who cast his ballot at Bukungu polling station in Kakamega town said he was concerned about the low voter turnout “but we expect more people to come and vote before close of business.”

He lauded IEBC for conducting a peaceful election.  “I have not witnessed cases of voter bribery, we are happy with the progress, Kakamega has set the pace for peaceful elections and the KIEMs kits have not let us down save for isolated cases.”

In Pokot South, 58,406 voters were expected to vote, while 50,268 voters were expected in Kacheliba.

Incumbent MP David Pkosing of Kenya Union Party (KUP) was facing off with Simon Kalekem of UDA and James Tekoo (Independent).

In Kacheliba, Mark Lomunokol who is seeking to defend his seat on UDA battled it out with Titus Lotee (KUP) and John Lodinyo (Kanu).

Speaking at Korelach polling station after casting his vote, Tekoo said the exercise was smooth with no hitches.

Pkosing while speaking at Chepkobegh primary polling station after casting his vote, faulted IEBC for printing ballot papers with errors that led to the postponement of the elections on August 9.

He said the delayed polls had disenfranchised the locals.

“People will elect their leaders depending on performance, we expect by evening the turn up will be 100 per cent,” he said.

Pkosing added that he was expecting the voters to speak through the ballot. Hellen Naro, a voter, told The Standard that she woke up at 4am and had to trek for nearly 30 kilometres to reach the polling station where she cast her vote.

Another resident from Parua, Charles Krop said he voted at 6.50am at his polling station.

“We hope everything will go well. Have exercised my democratic right,” he said.

Some KIEMS hits in some polling stations in Parua developed technical hitches while some devices were not working properly, due to a weak network.

Lotee cast his vote at Kacheliba primary school, while Lomunokol voted at AIC Kameris primary school polling station.

Lodinyo on his part voted at Kiwawa primary polling station.

County returning officer Joyce Wamalwa said the exercise went on well though some challenges were reported in Pokot South due to poor terrain, hence the exercise was delayed to start.

“Rain and hills in Lelan was a challenge for our officers, but the exercise is now going on,” she said.

Wamalwa said areas along the West Pokot and Turkana border had no challenges.

The situation was the same in Nyaki West Ward election in North Imenti Constituency, Meru County.

“I have not gone to vote because the most important seat, according to me, was the presidential and governor’s seats. The MCA is important too but I have some errands to run and my boss refused to grant me a day off,” said David Muthomi, of Nyaki area. 

[Reports by Joakim Bwana, Phares Mutembei, Brian Kisanji, Jackiline Inyanji, Robert Amalemba and Benard Lusigi]