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IEBC maps Kenyans living in diaspora for voter registration

20 February 2015, 09:13 Nechesa Chemoi

Nairobi - The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Thursday launched an online mapping platform in preparations to register Kenyans living abroad.

Addressing political party representatives, government officials and other stakeholders during the launch, IEBC Vice-Chairperson Lilian Mahiri-Zaja said the online mapping portal will provide reliable baseline data on citizens of Kenya residing outside the country who are eligible to vote. 

The data will guide the planning and setting up registration and voting centres in the country’s next elections.

The Constitution provides for progressive registration of Kenyans residing outside the country as voters as well as progressive right to vote in elections.

The commission called for the support of all partners in dissemination of information, to make the exercise be successful.

"A critical element will be civic engagement. We will work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, various diaspora platforms and political parties to realize our objectives," said IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba. 

"It is however worth noting that the portal is not meant for voter registration but a mechanism of collecting reliable data of potential voters," added Chiloba.

Also read: IEBC raises concern over voter registration in Middle East

In the 2013 General Elections, IEBC undertook voter registration and conducted presidential elections for Kenyan citizens residing in the four East African countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. At this time, the commission relied on baseline data provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which showed that East Africa had a Kenyan voting population of 12,426 (Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda). No data was provided for Burundi.

According to the IEBC, Out of the estimated voting population, 2,637 were registered voters and 2,328 turned up to vote, making this an impressive 88 percent voter turnout, higher than the national voter turnout of 86 percent.

The disparity between the estimated eligible voters and the actual registered voters was attributed to lack of a broad-based international migration policy in Kenya which has occasioned a deficiency in data on citizens residing outside the country.

“The mapping exercise is therefore aimed at closing the gap between estimated voting population and actual registered voters. Data collected from the mapping will be continuously compiled into a database,” IEBC said.

Kenyans who have attained the voting age 18 years and living outside the country and wish to participate in elections back home will need to log on towww.iebc.or.ke/diaspora to submit their details.

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