Riddle of Mt Kenya’s low voter turnout


IEBC voting registration/confirmation equipment. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Low voter registration, especially in Mt Kenya, could be the first hint of disinterest in next year’s elections.

Figures released by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), following the month-long exercise, could portend a grim reality for politicians hoping to claim the vote-rich Mt Kenya bloc.

Mt Kenya was key in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ascension to power.

After a month of mass voter registration, IEBC has enlisted 1,421,710 voters against a target of six million.

With the nationwide apathy towards voter registration, Mt Kenya counties recorded some of the lowest figures.

IEBC enlisted 15,736 new voters in Kirinyaga, 15,133 in Nyandarua, Tharaka Nithi 12,807, Laikipia 11,027 and Embu 14,434.

In total, the 10 counties that make up Mt Kenya region registered 267,597 voters.

But it is instructive that Mt Kenya counties had some of the highest numbers of registered voters in 2017.

Nairobi, Nakuru and Kiambu, some of the counties with the largest population, are expectedly leading the log.

There are 139,560 new voters in the city, the largest number registered during the month-long exercise. Nakuru and Kiambu have added 58,436 and 54,668 new voters into their roll.

The numbers are fractions of what IEBC hoped to achieve. For instance, IEBC targeted at least 353,367 voters in Kiambu.

Counties that registered more than 50,000 voters are Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Kisii and Kakamega.

The leading presidential contenders, Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s backyards conducted robust voter registration campaigns. Raila’s Nyanza turf enlisted 169,437 new voters from Busia, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori.

Ruto’s Rift Valley strongholds in Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho and Bomet counties registered 150,968 new voters.

IEBC target

Uasin Gishu met 20 per cent of the IEBC target, Elgeyo Marakwet 27 per cent, Baringo 26 per cent, Bomet 17 per cent, Trans Nzoia 23 per cent and Kericho 17 per cent.

Nairobi and North Eastern region had the largest number of voters requesting transfers.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale, a Ruto ally, said that the low voter registration was expected, and warned that the apathy would extend to the election.

“The voters are disenfranchised. People are tired. When you elect leaders you expect them to fix the problems yet that has not happened. We are seeing demolition, increasing prices and exclusion,” Duale said. The High Court yesterday lifted orders prohibiting the IEBC from ending the mass voter registration.

New voters have until the end of today to enlist after which those who are locked out would have to go to IEBC offices if they want to register.