IEBC commissioner wants voter registration exercise extended

IEBC commissioner Francis Wanderi supervises the registration of a student at the University of Kabianga [Courtesy]

A commissioner with the electoral agency is proposing the extension of voter registration to allow college students more time to register.

Speaking at the University of Kabianga, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioner Francis Wanderi said the idea to take the enhanced voter registration to universities and tertiary institutions came late, hence the need to extend beyond next month.

Mr Wanderi, who found a long queue of students seeking to be registered, noted that voter registration in institutions of higher learning started a week ago.

His proposal came just a week after some Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs called on the commission to extend mass voter registration by two months.

The commission had targeted to register six million more voters but was hampered by the lack of funds.

The electoral agency has been conducting spot checks and analyzing registration data in universities and colleges for the past one week leading to the current proposal.

"We are going to hold a plenary whereby we will request IEBC chairman and fellow commissioners to extend the registration for students in universities and colleges," he said.

"The students understand the value of a vote, and that is why they are eager to participate in the general election. They should be given a chance," said Wanderi.

At the university, which has over 10,000 students, IEBC has provided two kits. 100-200 students have been streaming in a day to register as voters.

"If we manage to reach new voters in universities and colleges, there is no question that the number of new voters will go up. We are going to try our best to reach students by giving them more time to register," he said.

IEBC Kericho County Elections manager Joseph Ayatta said they had registered 24,309 new voters out of the targetted 86,532.

"This 28.8 per cent. It is almost the rest of the country's average. We project to register about 35,000 new voters by the closure of the registration exercise," Ayatta said.

The county had 377,211 registered voters in 2017.

Ayatta dismissed as insignificant the number of voters at the tea estates, who had sought to transfer their polling stations from the host county to elsewhere.

"We have not seen workers mass request to transfer from one polling station to another. The transfer level is normal," he said.

Wanderi called on eligible youths who were yet to collect their National Identification Documents (ID) despite making the applications to go for the cards and register.

"IDs are lying at the register of persons. The owners should pick them. In case IEBC will get an extension of time and additional funding, we would not want to leave any youth unregistered," he said.