Kenya : Electoral body IEBC on the spot over irregular mass voter transfer

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Thursday, 2 June 2022 17:38, updated on Monday, 20 June 2022 11:45

Wafula Chebukati, Chairman of Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission attends a press conference in Nairobi
Wafula Chebukati, Chairman of Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) attends a press conference at the Kenyan Supreme Court in Nairobi, Kenya, March 16, 2022. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is in the hot seat over irregular voter transfers ahead of August’s anticipated presidential polls.

Throughout May, voters across the country have been verifying their details with the electoral body, an exercise that ends on 2 June. However, some voters have complained of being transferred to a new voting area without their consent.

Last week, voters protested in Kitengela, Kajiado County, accusing the electoral body of single-handedly transferring them to a new voting area they were not familiar with.

Our voters are confused, they did not request to be transferred, we will lose votes

The electoral commission has admitted that there has been illegal transfer of voter sites, but said investigations into the matter are underway.

Wafula Chebukati, the IEBC chairman, is blaming the registration officers in the 290 constituencies and the 47 counties for the mistakes and warns that the commission will take stern action against all that has been involved.

“We do not condone such [action], as it is against the rights of Kenyans under Article 38 of the Constitution to be registered to vote in a place not of their choice,” said Chebukati.

He further stated that all the affected voters that were transferred without knowledge will be returned to the correct voting station.

The fear from such a move is voter apathy and loss of confidence in the IEBC to carry out an election that is both free and fair.

Integrity at risk

Kenya’s Elections Observation Group (ELOG) says the integrity of the electoral commission is at stake and could cost the August polls.

“Proper probe should be done, and review their internal system,” says Mule Musau, ELOG’s national coordinator.

On the other hand, the IEBC says it has received 1,019,000 transfer requests that are being reviewed.

Three months to the election, all eyes are on Wafula Chebukati, the IEBC chairman, who – for the second time after 2017 – will supervise the presidential and general election, with pressure to deliver a free, fair, credible and verifiable election.

I have always voted at St.Monica, [but] I have been transferred to Ereteti centre, I don’t know the place, I don’t think I will vote

In the last election, the IEBC faced credibility issues after the Supreme Court annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win after the judges said the electoral body had failed, neglected or refused to conduct the election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution.

Losing votes

Politicians vying for various political offices are concerned that the transfer of voters will make them lose votes if a solution is not found immediately.

Caroline Wanjiku, a voter in Kitengela, a Nairobi suburb, says she is stressed by the sudden change. “I have always voted at St.Monica, [but] I have been transferred to Ereteti centre, I don’t know the place, I don’t think I will vote,”.

Mary Seneta, a senator from Kajiado County, is looking to run for member of parliament, says: “Our voters are confused, they did not request to be transferred, we will lose votes.”

Others are angry about the change done without their permission. Mwangi says he was shocked to discover that he had been transferred to a new voting place, 50 kilometres away from where he registered.

“In 2017, I voted at St. Mary’s Primary School, why have they [IEBC] transferred me to Likimani Primary School, without my consent?” he says.

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