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Raila's hunt for votes moves to door-to-door campaigns

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka talk during the launch of mass voter registration on January 18, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga’s foot soldiers are on overdrive as they plot how best to maximise the mass voter registration drive to increase his vote basket in his Nyanza and Western base.

Although the exercise started slowly yesterday following a heavy downpour, Mr Raila’s troops are optimistic about enlisting more voters in the three-week exercise. And unlike past voter drives where leaders engaged in roadshows, the focus has now shifted to door-to-door campaigns to woo potential voters.

Leaders claim they have put aside their differences, and are working with about 60 volunteers from each ward to identify potential voters and encourage them to enlist.

In Kisumu, MPs James K’Oyoo (Muhoroni), Fred Ouda (Kisumu Central), Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu East), Olago Aluoch (Kisumu West) and James Nyikal (Seme), among others, met at Mama Grace Onyango Social Hall to prepare for voter mobilisation.

They vowed to tackle voter apathy, saying it had negatively affected Raila’s presidential bid in past elections.

According to Cabinet Secretary Raphael Tuju, Nyanza performed dismally in the last voter registration exercise.

“It was at 20 per cent of the targeted potential voters. Kisii County did better in terms of percentages and real numbers. Just about 30,000 voters were registered out of a possible total of 160,000. We enter this final leg of three-week voter registration with over 100,000 not yet registered.”

Tuju said the figures are before they factor in those who do not have IDs. “Another estimated 200,000 do not have ID cards. We are going to do everything possible to rectify this situation.  We hope we can get people from six counties to rise to the occasion.  We cannot afford to spend time on blame games and what-about debates. We are requesting volunteers to adopt polling stations.”

Authorities say an estimated 60,000 IDs are yet to be collected in Nyanza.

Leaders also said they were optimistic about luring members who had ditched the party in the past to contest for seats on other political vehicles.

In 2017, the region had a total of 1,939,730 registered voters. In Kisii, leaders are also optimistic about increasing the 412,945 voters on its roll in 2017.

In western Kenya, 516,555 identity cards were processed and issued between 2017 and last year.

Western Region Registrar of Persons Samuel Sagala had earlier said that 189,236 IDs were issued in Kakamega and another 168,842 in Bungoma.

Busia and Vihiga counties had 90,360 and 68,117 IDs processed and issued, respectively, according to the official.

The Registrar of Persons had received over 50,000 new applications in Kakamega, 48,330 (Bungoma), 24,880 (Busia) and 21,300  in Vihiga.

In the 2017 elections, Kakamega had 743,736 registered voters, Vihiga (272,409 voters), Busia (351,048), Bungoma (559,850 voters) and Trans Nzoia (339,622). The total was 2.27 million registered voters, according to IEBC data.

Local leaders have embarked on spirited campaigns to encourage residents to register in large numbers. Martin Andati, a political analysist, said western Kenya could play a pivotal role in determining the next president. 

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