IEBC faulted over failure to hold voter education for special-interest groups

IEBC faulted over shortfall in voter education

The electoral agency has been accused of failing to conduct voter education for special-interest groups, with a few days remaining before the August 9 General Election.

Speaking to the Nation on Thursday, National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) CEO Betty Sungura said people with disabilities, should have been trained at the grassroots on how to participate in the polls.

Ms Sungura argued that this would have minimised hiccups during voting and enhanced its credibility.

She said it is common knowledge that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) holds elections every five years and the agency “had five solid years to plan for this election”.

“It is within its mandate to pronounce itself, within the five years, in ensuring accessibility of the polling stations by all Kenyans. Wananchi should be able to reach those stations,” Ms Sungura said.

“The IEBC should up its game in ensuring that voter education is conducted, particularly for the special-interest groups like persons with disability. It is important that we minimise spoilt, rejected and stray votes.”

She urged the IEBC to partner with her commission to ensure that voter education is carried out and that the preparations are inclusive and thorough.

She said her agency had dispatched 100 staff to monitor the polls.

Voter education materials

“For instance, I expect that the IEBC has printed Brailled voter education materials whenever they reach out to the public. They also need to have sign language interpreters in order for the message on the August 9 General Election to be very clear,” Ms Sungura said.

She spoke after attending a funeral mass for Mr Joseph Kanyua, the father of former NGEC commissioner Priscilla Nyokabi, at Karima Catholic Church in Othaya, Nyeri County. Mr Kinyua died aged 73.

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“We are about 10 days away from the General Election. It is within the constitutional function of IEBC to conduct voter education and ensure that there is awareness on the materials that are being disseminated to citizens,” Ms Sungura said.

“The public needs to know when the voting stations open and close. In some rural counties, the majority of the population are farmers and they need to understand the voting timelines so that they can schedule that day in order not to miss their constitutional right to vote.”

But she lauded the IEBC for ensuring that two-thirds gender principle was adhered to in political party nominations.

“As a commission, we have been able to audit the party nomination list to check whether there is compliance with the principle accordingly,” she said.