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IEBC should implement 2017 election evaluation report

OPINION
By Wilson Sossion | October 24th 2021

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Free and fair elections conducted through a verifiable process are the foundation of democracy - a democracy that ensures the government draws its authority from the will of the people.

Judicial and square election makes the government legitimate, and accountable to its decisions, and enhances democracy and the dignity of the citizens. The best opportunity to enhance our democracy is by mounting a free, fair and credible 2022 General Election.

Consequently, conducting a post-election evaluation is an integral component of an electoral cycle and a crucial practice for any forward-looking election management body. The post-election evaluation by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) sought to make a critical assessment of the conduct of the 2017 General Election.

The evaluation was meant to establish what worked and what did not work as expected. The lessons learnt from the evaluation were meant to be the basis for the review of IEBC’s  Strategic Plan in preparation for the 2022 General Election.

The post-election evaluation came up with far-reaching recommendations, which we firmly believe, if implemented wholly, will secure the foundation of the country’s democracy and ensure free, fair and verifiable elections.

It is against this backdrop that IEBC is obligated to uphold and rightly implement the recommendations in the Post-Election Evaluation Report. These include; the electoral body to ensure there is periodical and targeted voter registration, which will lead to the registration of more voters as compared to the continuous voter registration. The Commission should review its policy on registration and voting among Kenyan citizens in the diaspora to make it economical and available to those who would like to register as voters.

Considering the dynamic nature of the political and electoral landscape, IEBC should periodically review the voter education curriculum, and curriculum support materials to address emerging issues.

For voter education to have an impact, IEBC should update the compendium of credible voter education providers throughout the country based on appropriate criteria for their selection; and build their capacities for the provision of quality voter education. The commission should target voter registration for particular groups in the community, such as the youth, women, pastoralists, disabled and people living in informal settlements. This would enhance the registration of eligible citizens.

The evaluation exercise revealed that technologies used in elections are not well understood by the electorate. In addition, the legislation of the use of technology in elections did not take into consideration the dynamic nature of technology, thus, the electoral body should continuously audit its electoral technologies. Considering the central role technology plays in elections, there is an urgent need for IEBC to develop specific voter education programmes on the use of technologies in elections in order to demystify election technology.

Apathy in the ongoing voter registration now threatens to deny IEBC its target of six million new voters. The exercise could be a mirage if the report, which is aimed at ensuring efficient, effective and credible 2022 elections, is not implemented.

-The writer is a member of parliamentary committees of Education and Labour         

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