The voter registration turnout has been low, in fact worryingly so, are eligible voters indifferent, disinterested, apathetic or is there is deeper reason for the low voter registration turn out.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) intends to register at least 18 million voters before the next elections. Initially the registration was process was to take place over a number of months. However process, procedural, and equipment delays as well as all the confusion about exactly when the election would be held has lead to both the postponement of the registration period, but to a shortening of the period for registering voters as well.
As it stands now the IEBC will have to register 18 million voters in the 30 days between 19th November and 19th December 2012. The Commission is adamant there will be no extension on these dates. The IEBC Chair Isaack Hassan is quoted as stating, “Those who fail to get registered within the 30 days should be prepared to miss out on the elections.”
So how is the IEBC doing so far? After the first week of registration the IEBC released a statement that 2.8 million voters had been registered. The 2.8 million registered voters represents a 75 per cent success rate against their target of the 3.7 million voters in the first week.
On the face of it a 75% success rate is not bad, some would even say it’s quite good, until you start crunching the numbers. If the IEBC intends to register 18 million voters in 30 days it needs to register at least 600,000 voters per day and 4.2 million voters per week. The first week of registration misses this target by 1.4 million voters, and if registration holds steady at the current rate i.e. no higher no lower, only 12 million voters will have been registered by the end the registration period.
Voting is not compulsory and the election process will likely carry on regardless of the final number of voters’ registered. However it should be noted that the cost of nonparticipation is greater for the citizen than the politician. If large numbers of people do not vote they will still have to abide with an outcome they did not chose, and probably do not approve.
The IEBC has responded to the low voter turn out by increasing the number of hours in day that persons can register to vote. According to the IEBC website voter registration has been running daily (including weekends) since November 19, 2012 from 8 am to 5 pm. To enable more people to register to vote registration centres will now be open at 6am and close at 7pm subject to security considerations. Whether the daily extension is enough for the IEBC reach the target of registering 18 million voters remains to seen.
Have you registered to voter, are you planning to register, if not why not?