- Title: Kenya in voter registration drive before August polls.
- Date: 20th January 2017
- Summary: SCREEN SHOWING SCANNED FINGER PRINTS
- Embargoed: 3rd February 2017 13:42
- Keywords: Elections Voter registration voters IEBC Electoral Commission President Opposition
- Location: NAIROBI AND KIAMBU, KENYA
- City: NAIROBI AND KIAMBU, KENYA
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA0025ZVXRH3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Kenya is in a crucial, final push to register voters ahead of general elections scheduled for August 2017.
The month-long exercise being carried out by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is targeting 6 million new voters by February 14.
The process is being done electronically using a Biometric Voter Register (BVR) system that uses fingerprints and digital photographs to identify eligible voters.
"We must not perform less than 200,000 people per day across the country, 200,000 per day across the country for us to get to the six million target," said Ezra Chiloba, commission secretary and CEO of IEBC.
But early days of the registration have seen low turn-out in some areas and a few cases of flawed or missing voter identification details.
"This is the first time I am voting. I want to pick the voters card but the queue is moving slowly and I have things to attend to, but I have to collect this card so I can also be eligible to vote," said Ismael Hamisi, a Nairobi resident.
"It is a bit frustrating because I have been queuing here for more than two hours and then when I get there, I am told that I'm already registered and when I sent the message I was told that there were no records found. So I felt so bad because there was no one to advise us on what to do," said Nairobi resident, Eunice Rianto.
The registration is being carried out by an electoral body in transition after the commissioners that handled 2013 polls were forced to step down following violent opposition-led protests.
The commissioners were accused of being biased and unfit to oversee elections. They denied the charges.
Electronic voter identification and other election systems collapsed in the 2013 poll.
Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga challenged the result of the race, which he lost to President Uhuru Kenyatta, blaming the failure of the BVR kits and other technical glitches on the shortcomings of the commission and on corruption.
Kenyatta approved a law in January requiring back up plans if electronic voting systems fail this time, despite fierce opposition from his rivals who say any manual arrangements will open the ballot to rigging.
IEBC officials say they are working to identify and correct any technical challenges, including some cases reported during the ongoing registration.
"Only 68 kits reported cases of malfunction and that is less than one percent of all the kits that we deployed across the country. So in other words we are saying more than 99 percent of kits performed well on the first day and the challenges that were actually experienced with respect to the one percent of the kit, were also expected given that these BVR kits were purchased five years ago and with time most of these challenges are likely to be faced," said Chiloba.
Less than eight months to the polls, analysts fear that the issues facing Kenyans, like an ongoing drought, the economy and corruption are still not being addressed because fixing the voting process has been left to too late.
Four years after the last elections, confidence in how polls are run in the country is still shaky.
Patrick Gathara is a political cartoonist and commentator on current affairs.
"We have learnt essentially no lessons from what we saw in 2013 and I very much expect a repeat of the same in 2017 and I think this points the fact to me that we are not talking about what our issues are. The politicians are only interested in winning an election, they are not interested in whether that election is free and fair. They just want to win and we are being kraaled because it is in our interest to demand a free and fair election where the people who loose actually accept the result as they did in 2002. If we don't have that then we run the risk of what we had in 2007 where they refused and then you have got violence. So it's quite important for us, the big issue for us is the election, the electoral system - fix that so it delivers what they promised for us in the constitution - transparent, fair, credible election," he said.
Violence has often been a feature of Kenyan elections. After the 2007 vote, 1,200 people were killed in ethnic fighting.
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