SECTIONS

To protect democracy, we must register as voters and be active

This is the first time in almost 20 years that apathy in registration and electoral process is so high. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

This is the last weekend for mass voter registration as the exercise officially ends. Nevertheless, if you haven’t registered, you still can do so in any of the offices of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission countrywide.

Article 83(3) of the Constitution provides that “administrative arrangements for registration of voters and conduct of elections shall be designed to facilitate, and shall not deny, an eligible citizen the right to vote or stand for election.”

We have witnessed much of the facilitation for this but the nagging question still remains, why such incredibly high voter apathy? This is the first time in almost 20 years that apathy in registration and electoral process is so high.

Twice in so many months there has been nationwide voter registration and awareness campaigns, although the involvement of civil society has been minimal; but still, it boggles the mind the incredible disinterest in voter registration if indeed the millions targeted are actually the correct figures and data.

There have been some efforts from civil society, with a few hashtags trending including #TUGUTUKE. This is reminiscent of the mass voter education and registration campaign mounted by RedyKyulass, Trublaq and Institute for Education in Democracy prior to the 2007 polls. Then, millions of young voters did actually enlist and a large number of them also presented themselves for various positions.

I have been wondering why did so many youth register as voters? Was it the free entertainment, concerts, music, dance and comedy? Better still, what attracted so many youth to present themselves for election, when we had only three positions (president, member of parliament and councillor) to vie for?

The argument that there will be no change in leadership is true now as it was true in 2007. In fact, the candidates for president have remained the same though in different political parties and formations since 2002.

It boggles the mind the incredible disinterest in voter registration if indeed the millions targeted are actually the correct figures and data. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Perhaps, this 2022 election may present some new candidates than before because two presidents, retired President Mwai Kibaki and President Uhuru Kenyatta will not be vying for any position this time. We have some new and not so new faces but there are many more elective positions now.

The 2010 Constitution introduced six elections to be held concurrently creating ready jobs that many graduates and job-seekers can go for. The key qualification is registration as a voter; because many of the youth tarmacking in our streets already possess the requisite academic and Chapter Six qualifications.

What they may lack is money but there many ways to align oneself with the right political parties, spruce up oneself and get the necessary sponsorship. One may also need some degree of conviction, loyalty to your party leader and the drive for campaigning; this is seemingly a small price to pay for the many positions, especially when you are young, energetic and truly hungry for a job.

In summary, there are 350 positions in the National Assembly (comprising 290 elected members, 47 women reps, 12 nominated on party list and the Speaker who is ex-official member); 67 positions in the Senate (47 members each elected from each county constituting a single member constituency; 16 nominated members through political parties lists, 2 members, being one man and one woman, representing the youth; 2 members, being one man and one woman, representing persons with disabilities; and the Speaker, the ex officio member).

There are about 1,450 positions of MCAs for election from wards and many nominated members.

Finally, there are one (2) position for president and deputy president, 47 positions for governor and 47 running mate positions for the deputy. All in all, we are talking about 1,963 positions and this number does not include the nominated MCAs to ensure Assemblies adhere to the two-thirds gender rule.