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Race to shore up voter numbers as IEBC sets date for registration

By Allan Mungai | September 23rd 2021
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairperson Wafula Chebukati addresses the press at Hermosa Garden Hotel in Karen on September 22, 2021. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The electoral body has announced the window for mass voter listing, setting the stage for the race for the numbers that will determine who wins next year’s elections.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Wafula Chebukati yesterday said the commission will begin a mass voter registration drive on October 4.

The 30-day exercise will provide Kenyans aged above 18, who are not registered as voters, with an opportunity to enroll to vote in the August 9 election.

It will also give a chance for voters to transfer their registration to more convenient polling centres.

The IEBC hopes to enlist between six and seven million new voters.

The electoral agency made the revelations yesterday when it met members of faith-based organisations at a Nairobi hotel.

The commission will also conduct mass voter registration for the diaspora in December this year.

The IEBC will include six more countries in its diaspora list, among them South Sudan, US, United Kingdom, Canada, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Chebukati said the countries meet the minimum requirement of 3,000 voters.

Kenyans living in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa participated in the 2017 General Election.

The IEBC announcement is expected to kick-start a frenzy among politicians who will be seeking to sign up as many of their supporters as possible to raise numbers necessary for victory.

The difference between the adult population in 2019 and number of registered voters in 2017 was slightly over six million people. These are the millions that the electoral body is hoping to add to its roll.

In ODM leader Raila Odinga’s base in Nyanza, there are about 300,000 people that Raila will have to work to ensure are registered as voters to bolster his numbers.

According to the results of the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census, there were 2,176,908 people aged above 18 in Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and Siaya–the four counties that make up the bedrock of Raila’s support.

The region had 1,862,671 people registered to vote in 2017, meaning that Raila’s focus will be on the 313,967 people who are not on the voters’ list.

According to The Standard’s own analysis of the census results and the 2017 IEBC register, there are 77,638 people in Kisumu who were unregistered to vote. Homa Bay had 60,677, Migori had the highest number at 128, 239, while in Siaya only 47,683 people were not registered to vote.

The battle for numbers will now shift to the Coast, parts of Western as well as Northern and North Eastern Kenya where large number of the population do not vote.

For instance, Kakamega, Bungoma and Kilifi, despite being among the most populated counties, have less than 40 per cent of their population listed to vote.


Bungoma had 559,850 registered voters in 2017 yet the county is the sixth most populous in the country. During the 2019 census, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) found that adults made up 47 per cent of the population.

In Bungoma there are 228,178 adults who are not registered as voters. In Kilifi that number is 223,755 while in Kakamega 180,406 new voters could enlist.

Some of the counties that have the potential to add the highest number of voters to the roll are Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Machakos and Turkana.

In Nairobi, by the time the 2019 census was conducted, there were over 607,243 people who were not registered as adults.

Kiambu had 362,294, Nakuru had 247,679, Machakos had 243,539 while Turkana had 240,025 unregistered voters.

Compared to the number of registered voters, some of the counties where the number of registered voters could rise exponentially are in North and North Eastern Kenya where only a small fraction of the adult population are voters.

For instance, should all the adults in Garissa County as of August 2019 register, the number of voters in the county would increase by 133 per cent.

Garissa had 163,350 voters in 2017 but the people who are aged above 18 years in the county were 380,952.

Similarly, in Turkana, there were 191,435 registered voters in 2017 but the number of adults in the county was 431,460 in 2019. If all the adults in the county enrolled as voters, the number would increase by 125 per cent.

The trend carries for Wajir, Isiolo, Mandera, Kajiado and Samburu where voter numbers could rise by more than 50 per cent.

On the opposite end of the table are counties in the Mt Kenya region such as Nyeri, Nyandarua, Tharaka Nithi and Murang’a where less than 10 per cent of the adult population are not registered as voters.

The average change in the number of voters–only taking into consideration the adult population of the country by 2019–is expected to be around 36 per cent

Some of the counties that fall below the average are Nandi, Migori, Makueni, Kiambu, Mombasa, Taita Taveta, Meru, Kericho, Nairobi, Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet, Busia, Kitui, Kakamega, Embu, Kisii, Tana River, Laikipia, Nyamira, Kisumu, Vihiga, Kirinyaga, Homa Bay, Lamu and Siaya

The top ten counties with the largest number of voters, as per the 2017 IEBC roll, are Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kakamega, Meru, Machakos, Muranga, Mombasa, Bungoma and Kisii

But when the counties are sorted according to regions with the highest number of adults, Kilifi joins the list and Murang’a falls off.


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