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September 22, 2017

Reprieve for unlisted voters as court orders IEBC to add two days

Activist Okiya Omtata leaves the Milimani courts on October 14 last year /COLLINS KWEYU
Activist Okiya Omtata leaves the Milimani courts on October 14 last year /COLLINS KWEYU

The High Court yesterday ordered the IEBC to extend the voter registration deadline by two days.

There were long queues at registration centres across the country, as last-minute applicants rushed to beat the deadline.

Justice Chacha Mwita issued the temporary orders following an urgent application filed by activist Okiya Omtatah. The judge said he was convinced the activist raised arguable issues, which requires to be determined by the court.

He certified the case as urgent and directed Omtatah to serve the IEBC, the Registration of Persons and Attorney General Githu Muigai with the suit papers immediately. “Let the applicant file and serve the respondent and come back on February 16 for inter-party hearing,” judge Mwita said.

Omtatah argued that the law only requires the voter registration exercise to be stopped two months to a general election.

He said voter registration should not be stopped five months to election as it has happened and the IEBC should allow people to register using birth certificates and expired passports. “Birth certificates are valid documents and can be used as an alternative for IDs and valid passports,” Omtatah said.

The activist also said the IEBC’s decision to base its voter’s registration targets on the number of IDs issued per county between 1999 and November 1916, and not the actual adult population size of citizens is wrong.

Omtatah said the use of persons holding IDs to make projections and not the size of adult population conceals the voter suppression machinations of the executive and strips the commission of its autonomy and vests it in those who issue IDs.

“Unless there is a hidden agenda around numbers during elections, it is not correct for the IEBC to use spurious data other than from the Directorate of Immigration and Registration of Persons,” he said

Omtatah said the IEBC must be forced to use accurate data on the estimated number of adults living in each county or constituency.

“There is a need to use a single database of citizens in all official transactions. The separate registration for exams ID, KRA Pin, passports are unreasonable and a wastage of public funds,” he said.

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