Elections have not formally begun and already cracks are beginning to show in the election fabric. There is the issue of the election budget written about here, and here. Then of course there is the issue of fraudulent/mistaken registration of voters to political parties.
In recent weeks it turns out that a number of Kenyan voters have been fraudulently/mistakenly registered as members of the political parties to which they do not belong without their knowledge or consent. The issue of fraudulent registration of voters to political parties is not new or surprising. The problem first came up in January when the Chairman of the Political Parties Liaison Committee, Nderitu Gachagua, revealed that political parties had been found to be colluding with M-Pesa agents to access data on peoples national IDs and using the data to register them as members of political parties without their consent.
What is surprising is that since the story broke, and now only 7 or 10 months to the next election, depending on how one is counting, the issue of the fraudulent registration of voters to political parties is yet to be resolved. Even more disconcerting is the clumsy approach that the Registrar of Political Parties and the political parties are taking to dealing with the issue.
Political parties have denied any role in fraudulent registrations, and have urged the registrar of political parties to act, yet seem to be doing nothing about the fraudulent registrations themselves. The Registrar for Political Parties has warned that fraudulent registration of party members is an offence punishable in law, by deregistration of the party and a fine of up to 1 million shillings. However she has also stated that her office has neither the capacity nor the mechanisms to establish whether parties registered members without their consent. If there is neither the capacity nor mechanism to establish whether the law has been broken, the enforcement of the law is a moot.
The implications of the fraudulent registration of voters to political parties are many: The first of course is on choice, if elections are about choice being registered as a member of a political party without one’s knowledge or consent certainly runs counter to the principle of choice. The law requires that presidential candidates present a list of at least 48,000 signatures of voters registered to their party in order to run, the law also requires the political parties recruit as members no less than one thousand voters, from more than half of the counties in order to be registered, if a number of these are found to be fraudulently registered this calls in to question the validity of both the party and the presidential candidate.
Have you been surreptitiously registered as a member of a party check here.