Nominated Senator Beth Mugo has asked the electoral commission to reconsider its stance on the use of the electronic voter register in the August 9 polls, saying it would lock out voters with fingerprint problems.
The senator instead asked Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Wafula Chebukati to provide the manual register for voter identification.
Ms Mugo said that she is among several voters who have lost sensitivity on their fingerprints and using only the digital register would deny them their constitutional right to vote.
She pointed out that the group involves the elderly and individuals who have lost sensitivity on their fingerprints due to the nature of their jobs.
“The decision to do away with the manual register will lock out many people who have problems with their fingerprints from voting, hence denying them their constitutional right to choose leaders of their choice,” said Ms Mugo.
“I will not be able to vote because I also have problems with my fingerprints. My late husband also had the same problem and that would have made two of us. What about others? Let the commission reconsider its stance because it is going to disenfranchise a lot of people including myself.”
No manual voter registers
The IEBC has been categorical that its decision to disallow the use of manual voter registers across over 46,000 polling stations as a complementary mechanism to the electronic identification of voters in the August polls will not change.
The IEBC has maintained that biometric verification will be the primary mode of identifying voters and where a voter cannot be identified using biometrics, presiding officers will use a complementary mechanism of an alpha-numeric search in the presence of agents.
This is despite Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party presidential candidate Raila Odinga and several civil society organisations questioning the IEBC’s rationale in its directive.
But the IEBC has said an individual has 10 fingerprints that must be exhausted before resorting to a complimentary mechanism.
Nonetheless, Senator Mugo argues that the move will most likely deny many Kenyans the chance to vote.
“I am calling on Mr Chebukati to rethink the argument he is advancing that the manual register will be misused as the buck stops with him as the chairperson, unless he has employed crooks or there are maybe some people he is trying to keep out. He should be honest,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ms Mugo faulted the IEBC’s decision to clear more than 200 candidates with integrity issues to vie for various seats in the upcoming elections.
Ms Mugo said the Constitution is the supreme law, with Chapter 6 explicit on who should hold a public office and Mr Chebukati should stop hiding under ongoing court cases to clear such individuals even after reservations expressed by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
“Do we want Kenya to be led by people with questionable integrity? Why are drug dealers and thieves of public funds being allowed to vie for office yet petty offenders are sent to jail?” she said.
“What kind of country are we going to have after August 9? I think IEBC has failed and the chairperson neglected his duty of keeping our public institutions clean.”