Isiolo residents have alleged bias in the transfer of voters’ details in Isiolo North constituency.
The residents said they were being turned away from the office and claimed that the Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) returning officer, whose job is to transfer voter data, was usually unavailable in the office.
Most residents who protested outside the office on Tuesday said they had visited the office several times but were not served.
Among them was Ms Fatuma Ali, a businesswoman who travelled from Nairobi and claimed she had been visiting the office since last Thursday with no success.
“The concerned officer should notify us when she is available so that we do not keep wasting our time coming here. I have been visiting the office from Thursday to today (Tuesday),” Ms Ali said.
Ms Florence Mukiri and Mr George Kinyanga said that every time they went to the office they were told to return the following day.
“I have visited this office for five days but I have not been helped. The officers have been telling me the returning officer is not around and that I should go back the following day,” Mr Kinyanga said.
Another resident, John Mwenda, wondered why the officer could not delegate the duty to the deputy whenever she was out of the office for other engagements.
“They should tell us where to go and get the services because we are tired of the frustrations,” said Ms Regina Akai, expressing fears she might not be able to transfer her vote to her preferred area.
But Isiolo North constituency Returning Officer Habiba Godana dismissed the claims, saying the office was doing its best to serve residents.
Offering the services
Ms Godana, who drove in while residents were speaking to journalists, said she was committed to offering the services. She downplayed allegations of discrimination.
“We are trying our best but have been overwhelmed by the ongoing voter registration, which as the returning officer I must also monitor,” she said.
Some 297 transfers had been processed at the office by Monday.
Meanwhile, Isiolo Deputy Governor Abdi Issa has petitioned the commission to extend the voter registration so as to achieve the 17,294 target in the county.
Lamenting low voter registration turnout, Dr Issa said the drought had seen many residents migrate in search of water and pasture for their animals and officials need to give them more time to return home and register.
The listing is in its fourth and final week and will end on November 2.
Isiolo County had by Tuesday registered 3,459 new voters, with the majority in Isiolo North, according to County IEBC Manager Jaban Mutwiri.
The Albatinge clan, while launching a drive to get more young people to register as voters in Isiolo town, blamed the low numbers on the lengthy application process for identity cards in the region.
Led by secretary-general Silas Eudan, the group asked local elected leaders to help youths whose IDs are pending to get the documents so that they can take part in the listing and exercise their democratic rights in the 2022 General Election.
“The government should ensure the ID applications are processed within the shortest time as our people have been waiting for several years to get the crucial documents,” said group vice-chairperson Ismael Galma, who was with chairperson Harrison Thuranira.