MPs blame poor voter turnout on political rivalry
21 August 2014, 12:01
Kakamega - A section of western MPs have raised concerns over poor voter turnout, blaming it on lack of common direction among Western leaders and lack of sensitization by the IEBC.
Speaking to the media, Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga), Arthur Odera (Teso South), Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo) and Ben Washiali (Mumias East) claimed that IEBC has neither done thorough civic education in the area to educate the public about importance of voter registration nor created awareness among Kakamega residents on the process.
“IEBC should organise for mobile registration centers to ensure all eligible Kenyans register as voters.
Having one center in each constituency is cumbersome. They should set up one in each polling station,” said Chanzu.
Without numbers, unity will be an effort in futility
Chanzu asked fellow Western political leaders to shelve their differences and embark on campaigns to encourage and educate residents on the importance of registering as voters.
“We have over 5 million people in Western but our performance in general elections has been dismal because as leaders we have not educated our people on the need to register as voters. We should forget about unity because without numbers, unity will be an effort in futility,” he said.
“Our people should register as voters to stand a chance to reap the gains of national leadership. They should discard their attitude of expecting short cuts to ascend to leadership. We also have tyranny of numbers if we can act smart for once,” Chanzu added.
Four months into the IEBC registration exercise, the region has recorded a low voter registration with some constituencies registering nobody.
“In lower western region comprising Kakamega and Vihiga counties, we have registered 120 voters for four month compared to other regions like North Rift who have so far registered more than 200 people; we have done dismally,” said George Oyugi, the Regional Election Coordinator Lower Western region.
“We have registered 554 voters so far. People think it’s only in 2017 that they need to register. For us to reach every eligible person, the Commission needs to devolve the registration to ward level. We should also target education institutions like universities and colleges to ensure that every youth registers,” said Japheth Yegon, the Regional Election Coordinator Upper Western region which comprises Bungoma and Busia counties.
Washiali said Kenyans especially westerners need to be educated on the importance of registering as voters, saying most of residents are ignorant and in dire need of civic education.
“This is a challenge to all leaders in western to take up the mantle and educate our people on the need to register in masses. We cannot rely on IEBC for everything,” said Washiali.
Odera urged those championing for referendum to channel their energies in mobilising voter registration in the region in preparation for the coming general election.
“People have been voting but there are no results to show. It's time local leaders teamed up to mobilise resources and ensure people register and vote. We also need to restore people’s confidence and faith that whichever way you vote, it counts,” said Odera.
Odera asked the electoral body to incorporate political leaders, religious leaders, public administration and other opinion makers to ensure the voter registration exercise succeeds.
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