15 February 2013

Kenya: IEBC Mock Polls Moved to February 24

Nairobi — The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has postponed the voter simulation that was planned for Monday to February 24.

In a statement sent to newsrooms the commission's Secretary, James Oswago, said the date was moved to avoid disruption of learning. The new date falls on a Sunday.

"This is due to the fact that majority of polling stations are public schools that will be in session on the date proposed earlier and that the exercise has the potential to interfere with normal learning activities as witnessed in recent political parties nominations."

The voter simulation exercise will take place in all the 1,450 County Assembly Wards (CAWs) in the country at a selected polling station in each.

The exercise is intended to educate members of the public how mark ballot papers, which ballot boxes to cast ballots in and how the transmission of results will take place.

The decision to undertake the mock poll was informed by the number of spoilt votes cast during the referendum held in 2010 on the adoption of a new constitution.

"Voters had two options to select from, 'Yes' or 'No' and a good number of voters put a tick next to one and an 'X' next to the other instead of picking just one," IEBC Voter Education manager Nixon Ng'ang'a previously told Capital FM News.

"On March 4 for the first time in the Kenya's history voters will be casting their votes for six and not three elective posts and so it behoves us to carry out the voter simulation exercise."

A total of 218,000 votes cast during the referendum were spoilt and this trend has been repeated in the by elections held thereafter Ng'ang'a revealed. "We witnessed 218,000 rejected ballot papers in 2010 in the referendum. We've also been witnessing a pretty high number of rejected ballots in various by elections that we've held so far."

"Our fear is that if we do not conduct very elaborate voter education specifically on how to mark the ballot paper - with the challenge of an expanded election that the new constitution poses - we'd probably magnify the problem of rejected ballots."

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