APPEAL

Voter registration not mandatory for referendum — IEBC

Agency challenges High Court verdict on on quorum, voter registration

In Summary

• The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in its appeal of the decision said voter registration is a continuous process. 

• The IEBC says it was wrong for the court to require a special nationwide voter registration drive just for the referendum.

Chairman of IEBC Wafula Chebukati on April 20, 2018.
ON THE SPOT: Chairman of IEBC Wafula Chebukati on April 20, 2018.
Image: JACK OWUOR

The electoral agency has said it did not require to hold a nationwide voter registration drive before a referendum as ruled by the High Court last month. 

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in its appeal of the decision said voter registration is a continuous process. 

The IEBC says it was wrong for the court to require a special nationwide voter registration drive just for the referendum.

“While registration of voters is continuous, inspection of the register of voters and verification of biometric data is periodic or happens at regular intervals,” IEBC says in submissions before the Court of Appeal.  

The five-judge bench which stopped IEBC from conducting a referendum on the BBI Bill said Kenyans who have yet to register to vote would be locked out of the process. 

The commission said it regularly revises and updates the register of voters and allows the inspection of the register as occasion demands.

“No evidence was tendered before the court to suggest otherwise,” it said. 

 The commission, chaired by Wafula Chebukati, challenges the judges’ findings on quorum, voter registration, verification of signatures and public participation. 

It has framed its appeal on the four areas as its grievances against justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Chacha Mwita and Teresiah Matheka’s verdict. 

 The commission also says no evidence was presented to show it did not inform the public or that the sensitisation was inadequate. 

The IEBC argues that the findings of the five-judge bench that they lack quorum is erroneous.

The commission says the bench departed from an earlier ruling by Justice Wilfrida Okwany that three commissioners could run the agency. 

“The High Court failed to appreciate a contrary finding on the issue of quorum which had been arrived at by another court of competent jurisdiction,” it says. 

The commission explains that their role does not include public participation at the current stage. 

“We are at the point of delivery of the draft Bill not seized of the referendum and cannot engage the members of the public before we are properly seized of the matter,” it says.  

 The High Court ruled that IEBC should have ensured that the BBI Steering Committee had complied with all legal requirements. 

These include public participation and transmittal of the Bill to the county assemblies for voting. 

The hearing of the case begins on June 28. 

 

(edited by o. owino)