The Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has commenced a vigorous and enhanced voter registration exercise in preparation for the 2022 General Election. It targets six million new voters under its two-phase Election Operations Management plan.
But are the voters aware of what is expected of them to practise their democratic right of voting? For the many new voters and those who registered but hardly bother to vote, voting is a power handed to the citizens of the country and is responsible for shaping a country through either electing or not electing the right leaders into office.
Do we understand the power of the vote in a democratic country like Kenya and are we ready to faithfully practise it? Learning about how to vote and the value behind voting is essential, especially for the youth.
Voting is a fundamental right for every adult citizen in a democracy. It gives power to the people to hold candidates and eventual leaders accountable to their mandate and promises they make when campaigning.
The right to vote is stipulated in Article 38 3(b) of the Constitution, under Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, where every adult has a democratic right, and duty, to vote. This is applicable to every adult who registers as a voter. Voting enhances inclusivity for people in society and offers an opportunity for young people, who have in many instances complained of being left out of the country’s democratic space.
Kenyans must understand that voting is an opportunity for increased representation, creates opportunities for more funding and a better quality of life but can only be accomplished if citizens come out to vote for their desired leaders who will diligently serve them. It is the only solution to bad leadership.
But ignoring one’s democratic right to leadership is more often than not a recipe for chaos and serves to forestall future developments through ignorance. Better described as voter apathy, where voters lack interest in electing leaders, it is an avenue of regret over what can only be deemed as a societal failure when individuals refuse to recognise the importance of voting and why it is a personal and societal responsibility.
On Monday next week, the IEBC will roll out its mass voter registration exercise, which offers an opportunity for the country’s young voters to be enlisted in the register and ultimately be a voice of reason in the country’s democratic space.
And as politicians jostle to their voting blocs to shore up voter numbers, understand that voting is a power, voting is your right, voting is your political voice and voting is your responsibility as a Kenyan eligible to vote.
Selina Chiteri, Nairobi