17 February 2013

Kenya: Lobby Groups Want Voter Education Intensified

Civil Society organisations have now expressed fears of high number of spoilt votes in the coming general election unless an intensive civic education is conducted by the electoral body.

The National Civil Society Congress leader Morris Odhiambo argues that until now many Kenyans have no clear information on how or where the exercise is being carried out.

Addressing a press confrence this morning, Odhiambo says there was need to focus more on assisted voters particularly the elderly and persons with disability by ensuring that they understand how they will go about voting.

"We can still use the remaining two weeks to reach out to as many Kenyans as possible, just to intensify the voter education. And we say this because, it is so important that we try to minimize the number of spoilt votes because that is where we are likely to have problems," Odhiambo said.

They issued the statement even as the electoral body is planning a voter simulation exercice in all the 1450 wards countrywide.

He lamented that most of the education providers who are civil society groups did not get funding in good time despite the launch of a voter education exercise in October last year.

"For some reason the kind of resources available to civil societies, this time round, were minimal. And that means that we have not been able to use our full potential in the voter education. We had assumed at some point that IEBC would have come in but it is happening fairly late in the day," he complained.

The lobby groups also want IEBC to do more of follow ups on areas where the exercise has already taken place and keep updating the relevant stake holders where to cover and not to cover, to avoid duplication of roles.

He also wants the electoral body to focus more on educating the elderly people who may encounter challenges on voting day.

"Those who are going to be voting for the first time need to be sensitized in time so that they understand the process. That can still be done within the two weeks. The more we also do the voter education , the more we make the assisted voters understand what they are supposed to do once they reach the polling station to minimi se spoilt votes," Odhiambo said.

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