IEBC’s new rules raise hope for diaspora voting

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has published a new policy on diaspora voting, raising hope for thousands of Kenyans living abroad seeking to participate in local polls.

The document, released on Thursday, said the commission will determine countries where voter registration and voting will be conducted, taking into account official data of citizens resident in such countries, their geographical spread, existing Kenyan foreign policy and cost.

“In order to provide cost effective registration services, each country where Kenya has a diplomatic presence must have a population of at least 3,000 eligible citizens registered with the Mission or with the Commission,” the commission said.

A citizen residing outside Kenya will be required to apply for registration as a voter in person to a registration officer appointed by the commission and at a designated centre by filling the prescribed form.

“Every citizen of 18 years and above residing outside Kenya and who wishes to be registered as a voter shall be required to furnish the registration officer with a valid republic of Kenya passport for the purpose of identification,” the IEBC said.

The officer will then proceed to record a voter’s particulars upon receipt, scrutiny and approval of the application for registration.

Objection filed

In the event that an objection to an application is filed by any other citizen, the registration officer will notify the applicant of the said objection through registered mail or any other safe and secure means, enclosing therein copies of affidavits or documents submitted in support of the objection filed, if any.

The applicant will have the right to file his counter-affidavit by registered mail or by similar means through which the notice was received, clearly stating defences sworn before any officer authorized to administer oaths.

The application for objection or appeal of claim will be approved or disapproved based on procedures laid down for claims and objections under the Subsidiary Legislation on Voter Registration (2012) of Elections Act 2011.

“For effective and efficient registration, the commission may deploy appropriate methods or technology in registration of voters subject to the Kenyan law,” IEBC said.

In the event of any delays in the delivery of presidential and referendum results from polling stations outside the country, the commission will not delay the proclamation of the final results if the outcome of the election or referendum will not be affected by the delayed results.

The commission said it will declare the final election results even if the scheduled election has not taken place in a particular country or countries, if the holding of elections therein has been rendered impossible by events, and circumstances peculiar to such country or countries, and which events, and circumstances are beyond the control or influence of the commission.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission facilitated Kenyan citizens residing in the East African region to exercise their voting rights during the March 2013 General Election.

Last year, the Supreme Court ordered progressive registration of Kenyans living abroad to enable them participate in local elections. The directive followed a petition by lobby New Vision Kenya and others against IEBC.

The court ordered the commission to register Kenyan citizens living in the diaspora and file periodic reports annually on such registration, for review by the National Assembly and the Senate.

The court further ordered that the commission puts in place an infrastructure for the comprehensive registration of Kenyan citizens in the diaspora as voters.

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY