Kenya: Why Eligible Kenyans Must Enlist and Vote

A major step in preparations for next year’s General Election is the mass voter registration that begins on Monday.

The electoral commission officials have a whole month to enable all the eligible Kenyans who do not have voting cards to enrol.

This is a great opportunity for Kenyans, who have just come of age, to register and vote for the first time.

The IEBC hopes to register at least four million new voters, to add to the 14.3 million listed in 2013, by March 15. This registration also gives a chance to those who failed to enlist to vote in the last General Election in 2013, for whatever reason, to do so.

Voting enables the people to choose their leaders from the grassroots to the top. It is, in fact, the cornerstone of our representative democracy.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission must pull out all stops. Voter registration has a bearing on how free and fair the election itself will be. The registers must capture accurate numbers in every region, county, constituency and ward.

The IEBC has government funding to make the exercise a success, but donors have also generously chipped in.

It is now up to the Kenyans themselves to take advantage of this period to enrol. Those who fail to do so now, should not turn around later and claim that they have been disenfranchised.

The IEBC cannot force people to come out and register. All must know that they have a civic duty to choose leaders by signing up and casting their ballots.

The IEBC, which is still reeling from accusations of ineptitude in the handling of the 2013 elections, when its biometric gadgets malfunctioned, must get it right this time. And the best place to begin the clean-up is voter registration.

The top electoral commission officials should not only listen to complaints, but must involve party leaders and other stakeholders in plans. Proper preparations are a must for credible elections in 2017.