Conduct civic and voter education ahead of 2022 polls

Civic and voter education has a critical role to play in ensuring fair, free and verifiable elections. [George Njunge, Standard]

In every General Election, voter and civic education are necessary to ensure that all people understand their rights, the political system, the contest they are being asked to decide and how and where to vote.

For an election to be successful and democratic, voters must understand their rights and responsibilities, and must be educated on how to participate meaningfully in the electoral process.

Voter and civic education are even more critical in post-conflict countries like Kenya where political situations may be volatile and election results may have an unprecedented impact on the country’s future – unpleasant events of the disputed 2007, 2013 and 2017 General Election results are still fresh in our minds.

It is against this background that l strongly advocate that every adult Kenyan undergo thorough voter and civic education to help them to make informed choices.

Indeed, part of Sh13 billion that Parliament allocated Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to prepare for the scheduled elections should go towards voter education exercise.

Civic and voter education are also part of youth empowerment and ensures that youth make informed decisions and helps them to identify political parties and candidates they should associate with during electioneering period.

Article 38 of the Constitution articulates political rights – freedom of citizens to make political choices, and the right to free, fair and regular elections based on universal suffrage. But this can only be achieved through strengthening the capacity of voters via continuous civic education.

In the past few years, Kenyans have been reeling under a lousy economy, increased joblessness, high cost of living, declining income, high taxes, insecurity, huge public debt, an unstable education system, poor healthcare and declining agricultural performance.

These perennial challenges can only be addressed productively if reputable leaders are elected into positions of authority. It is only through a full-scale voter and civic education exercise that the electorate can usher in leaders of substance.

Since civic education makes us well-informed, active citizens and gives us the opportunity to change the world around us, the exercise should therefore start in earnest. It should cover the Constitution, representation at national and county governments, political rights, political parties, IEBC, electoral laws, electoral cycle, delimitation of electoral boundaries, and more importantly, leadership and good governance. Thus, this education  should guide succession politics.

In brief, civic and voter education has a critical role to play in ensuring fair, free and verifiable elections, and in guarding against interference with the right to vote. The education dispels myths and misinformation, and underscores the integrity of the voting process.

Civic and voter education will greatly assist in eliminating electoral fraud.

Mr Sossion is a member of parliamentary Committees on Education and Labour