Why you'll have to wear mask to vote on August 9

New rules to apply to all persons entering polling stations

In Summary

•As of Wednesday, the positivity rate stood at 4.5 per cent, after at least 101 new infections were reported. 

•So far, 19 million - of which 16.9 million are above 18 years, have been vaccinated.

A driver in a mask in Nairobi.
A driver in a mask in Nairobi.

Voters will be required to wear a face mask during voting on August 9 in tough measures imposed by the IEBC to contain the spread of Covid-19.

In new guidelines, IEBC says voters will be checked for masks covering the nose and mouth at the entrance to the polling station.

Citing Ministry of Health regulations, the electoral commission says the temperature of the voters will also be checked.

They will be required to wash their hands with soap before entering the polling stations.

The IEBC rules indicate that voters will be required to maintain a 1.5-metre social distance when queuing to vote.

Recently, IEBC CEO Hussein Marjan declared that the commission would enforce Covid-19 protocols during voting.

He said the commission, which has since reactivated Covid-19 tenders it had suspended after numbers slumped, would follow laid down protocols spelling the preventive measures. 

Clerks at the polling stations will, however, have room to ask a voter to remove their mask or lower it temporarily for clear identification.

Alcohol-based sanitisers will be placed at strategic locations for use by the voters.

“Voters are encouraged to bring and use their own items such as pens or writing materials where applicable to reduce chances of sharing,” the protocols read.

IEBC had committed to providing soap and water at all entry and exit points to promote high standards of hygiene.

New government directives spelt by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe require persons attending an indoor activity to wear masks.

This was after the country reported increased cases of Covid-19 infection but the same is argued to have gone down and will subside further as the cold season fades.

As of Wednesday, the positivity rate stood at 4.5 per cent, after at least 101 new infections were reported. 

So far, 19 million - of which 16.9 million are above 18 years, have been vaccinated. Total positive cases since the onset stood at 337,005.

It remains to be seen whether the rules will be enforced to the latter, especially in the wake of Kenyans dropping their guard and keeping masks at bay.

A proposed vote protection plan by presidential frontrunners is also anticipated to pose enforcement challenges.

While DP William Ruto is yet to unveil his plan fully, apart from the deployment of agents, his competition in Azimio is asking voters to remain at polling stations after voting.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga has been making the call at various political rallies he has addressed across the country, a move likely to put them on a collision course with the police.

Political parties and candidates would only be allowed two agents at a polling station in the rules, which require visitors to wait outside until attended to by the returning officer.

“The returning officer shall ensure that regularly touched surfaces are consistently wiped and disinfected, and that hand sanitisers are readily available to the electorate and staff,” the protocols read.

Presiding officers will be required to confirm the availability of the PPEs, check the health condition of poll officials, and check the availability of water and soap.

The General Elections Regulations prescribe areas where unauthorised persons are barred from in a polling station after voting is closed.

Edited by A.N

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