Week 1 Of Voter Registration, What We Discovered.



One week is already gone as far as the voter registration exercise is concerned. A spot check in a few of the registration centres within Thika Town this morning revealed that the clerks were registering between 30 and 50 people per day translating to a paltry 300 for the whole week. Despite all the hype from political players, the turnout has been poor.

It has to be taken in mind that the mass voter registration exercise that kicked last Monday to last up to March 15, 2016 is a major undertaking of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the road map to the 2017 General Election. IEBC has deployed 5,756 BVR kits and a corresponding number of Voter Registration Assistants (VRAs) to conduct the exercise at County Assembly Wards (CAWs) across the country.

In the February-March 2016 registration drive, IEBC hopes to register a number close to their projected 11.4 million potential voters who require to be registered by 2017. Under their 2015/2020 Strategic Plan, they target to register at least eight million additional voters.

Unfortunately, registration clerks have been largely idle in these centres due to the few number of people who were visiting them either to register for the first time or change their polling stations. It is worrying to note that the turn-out is particularly poor among those who want to register as new voters. By calling for registration of voters at this time, IEBC was essentially trying to avoid a clog-up of activities close to Election Day.

The fundamental purpose of voter registration is to ensure that only those people entitled to vote in a given jurisdiction can do so and that they each vote only once. Voter registration brings eligible people into the election process thus ensuring the equality of the vote and prevents ineligible people from voting.

Voter Registration is the right of all eligible citizens to participate in the affairs of their government and is one of the cornerstones of Democracy. Perhaps the most fundamental form of participation is voting in elections. Elections are the heart of democracy. For you to exercise your democratic right to vote, your name must be in the voters register.

Registering to vote isn't something most people think about outside of election time. If you don't register, you can't vote. It is as simple as that. At any election in your area, one of the candidates will be selected to represent you, whether you vote or not. If you are registered, you will have the chance to have a say on who represents you by voting.  Being able to vote gives you a say on who represents you in your Ward, in Parliament, your Governor and the Presidency.

Some of us refuse to register because they are convinced that we hate politics (Read: politicians). Avoiding politics is impossible. Political decisions will be made for you even if you opt not to participate in elections. You still have to pay taxes even if you don't vote. Elected officials will always make decisions about those things that affect your life without regard to your opinions, if you don't vote. There is no hole deep enough for you to bury your head in than to avoid politics completely. You can't run but you can't hide — so you may as well participate.

Every time you vote, you participate in making make the system better. It may never be perfect, but improvement is possible. By voting, you improve your power to make your elected officials respond to you and making your voice loud enough to be heard by everyone. Voting is a very valuable right that you should never take for granted. There are so many compelling reasons to vote.

When we all vote, we make a powerful force that can move mountains (Read: politicians). When we don't, the few who do decide what kind of leadership we get and thus have more clout because they are a bigger percentage of a smaller pie.

You look at all the parties/politicians and you think that they are all the same. You think your vote doesn’t matter and won’t change anything. Just think how different things might be if everybody who could vote actually voted.

You may think you are rebelling by not voting. You absolutely very wrong. Those in power like things as they are. That is why they will go to any lengths to discourage those of you who are reasoning logically about good governance so that you don’t go to that ballot box to mix things up.

You don’t have to like politicians, or even politics to vote. At least there are a number of MCAs, MPs, governors and presidential candidates that are decent and hardworking people who actually really want to change things for the better. If you really, really don’t like any of the politicians on the ballot paper the best thing you are supposed to do is to vote them out on that ballot paper.

So, if you don’t register to vote, nothing changes. If you don’t vote, you quite literally don’t count. The same gene pool of people slosh around the punch-bowl of politics, with a strong chance of getting their hearts’ desires. That won’t change by your refusing to go to the ballot box. You should therefore not only register to vote, but let them know you have registered to vote. Then ask them which one of them wants your vote and what they are going to do about it.

And by the way, why can’t you just register vie for that seat too because with you in the County Assembly or in Parliament, this nation would be different.

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