Voter registration

A man registers as voter outside Mahiga Primary School in Kahawa West, Kiambu County on January 29, 2022 during phase two of the Enhanced Continuous Voter Registration exercise.

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

IEBC misses voter registration target, again 

What you need to know:

  • The IEBC was targeting to register 4,480,706 voters in the 21-day campaign ending on February 6. 
  • The first mass voter registration drive last year netted only 1,519,294 new voters.

The electoral commission has, once again, fallen short of its voter registration target, registering just 12 per cent of its 4.5 million target, with only six days to go in its mass registration drive. 

Plagued by a growing youth population disinterested in voting, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has so far registered a total of 548,188 new voters against its target of 2,987,138 in the last 14 days.

Overall, the IEBC was targeting to register 4,480,706 voters in the 21-day campaign ending on February 6. 

The first mass voter registration drive last year netted only 1,519,294 new voters, increasing the number of Kenyans eligible to vote in 2022 to just over 21 million, up from 19.6 million in 2017.

Like in the first case, voter apathy is still being registered in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s restive Mt Kenya region, with only a fraction of those eligible to vote enlisting.

Deputy President William Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard recorded the highest number of new voters, just as was the case in the first registration campaign. 

Out of IEBC’s total target of 1.053 million new voters in Mt Kenya, only 84,044 have enlisted in the last two weeks.

These are Kiambu County’s 26,544, Meru 16,198, Murang’a 9,399, Nyeri 8,036, Kirinyaga 6,984, Embu 6,767, Nyandarua 5,676, and Tharaka Nithi 4,350. 

Voter apathy

For Dr Ruto, the voter apathy in Mt Kenya region is worrying, given that the region gave Jubilee under him and President Kenyatta more than 50 per cent of the votes they got in the 2013 and 2017 elections.

Of the 6.2 million Uhuru-Ruto secured in 2013, 3.2 million (52 percent) came from Mt Kenya counties as well as Laikipia and Nakuru.  

In 2017, this percentage did not change much, with the region handing the Jubilee duo 4.1 million (50 percent) votes of the 8.2 million they amassed. 

Mr Odinga, backed by key Uhuru allies, has been scouring the mountain region, in the hope of getting a slice of the votes. 

Comparatively, out of the IEBC’s target of 904,549 new voters in the Rift Valley, the commission has enlisted a total of 128,366 new voters.

Nakuru enlisted 19,686 new voters, Uasin Gishu 18,106, Nandi 12,154, Trans Nzoia 12,123, Kericho 11,299, Narok 11,288, Kajiado 10,152, Bomet 9,741, Elgeyo Marakwet 7,388, Turkana 7,327, Baringo 6,488, West Pokot 6,158, Laikipia 4,576, and Samburu 3,269.

In Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, the IEBC registered 87,669 new voters against a target of 594,016 in the counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii and Nyamira.

Governors Anyang’ Nyong’o and his Siaya counterpart Cornel Rasanga last week took drastic action to get new voters to enlist when they ordered county staff to take time off to mobilise those with national identity cards but who have not enlisted.

Mr Odinga, the leader of Azimio la Umoja, has also urged the region to show him its support by increasing the number of voters registered.

"My rivals are having their people register as voters in large numbers because they have taken the presidential race in 2022 seriously. When I walk out there, I am embarrassed because of the manner in which you are not taking this matter seriously. Do you want me to quit the race? If you do not register in numbers, then I do not see the reason I should contest. We have to take this matter seriously and register," Mr Odinga said in Homa Bay on January 22.

According to Mr Rasanga, who heads Mr Odinga’s home county of Siaya, the voter registration drive is a big determinant on the future of the people.

“Except for staff offering essential services, I have given all staff two days off duty on Monday, January 31, and Tuesday, February 1, during which they should register as voters and also support mobilisation for the registration exercises in their communities. It is my legitimate expectation that the above interventions by my government shall result in huge voter registration at the end of this exercise. I urge everybody to continue playing their roles between now and end of the exercise on February 6,” Mr Rasanga announced last week.

In Western, where its 2.2 million vote bloc is up for grabs between Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto, the IEBC has so far registered 59,795 new voters against a target of 430,283 in Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia and Bungoma.

Dr Ruto has since teamed up with Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula under the Kenya Kwanza alliance to take on Mr Odinga.

In Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s Ukambani — having insisted he is in the race under the One Kenya Alliance — the IEBC has registered 43,526 new voters, against a target of 368,442.

In 2017, Kitui, Makueni and Machakos counties handed Mr Odinga, whose running mate was Mr Musyoka, 968,437 votes, up from 768,025 in 2013. 

Were the entire bloc — or a significant section of it — to be hived off from Mr Odinga’s tally were Mr Musyoka to push through with his campaign, the chances of the ODM boss hitting the 50 per cent threshold required to win in the first round, will be hurt even further.

The Azimio la Umoja leader has won to his side governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), and Alfred Mutua (Machakos).

Besides the 548,188 new registrations, IEBC has also made 130,320 requests to transfer polling stations.
Similarly, the commission has registered 1,054 Kenyans in the diaspora, and transferred 1,072 of them to the polling stations in the countries where they currently live.

IEBC is conducting the diaspora voter registration in the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), Qatar, Germany, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

While the number of Kenyans abroad could be a negligible number, the fact that they only vote for the presidential candidates — who must get 50 per cent plus one vote to win — makes them a potentially decisive group.

The diaspora vote is counted as constituency 291.

In 2017, only Kenyans living in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa — 4,393 of them across 10 polling stations — were eligible to vote.