Kakamega residents express mixed reactions over voter apathy in governorship race

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By Seliphar Musungu, Kakamega

Like other elections Kenyans were expected to turn out in large numbers to vote for their favorite gubernatorial candidate in Kakamega County.

Gubernatorial election in Kakamega was postponed due to confusion in election papers and insecurity issues. New voting date was announced by the IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Fernandes Barasa with his wife Prof Janet Kasili arrive at Bulimbo primary school in Matungu constituency to cast thier votes - Photo/Dennis Avokoyo/County Splash

Most polling stations registered low voter turnouts as many claimed not to have time to vote. 

In an interview with the Kakamega County election observer Pius Masai who said that postponement of voting dates has led to very low turnout of voters in polling stations. 

“The IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati made a mistake of postponing election dates. It is the main reason why we experienced low voter turnout because the voters had switched off from elections and gone on with their daily activities.”

Masai also argued that claims of vote theft have led to citizens to lose morale on voting since they think that what happened during presidential elections will happen again.

He also requested the IEBC to improve on voter training to educate citizens on the importance of voting. 

Cleophas Malala

“IEBC should conduct a serious voter education on citizens to enable them understand the importance of voting,” said Masai 

At Ekero polling station which registered low voter turnout one of the voters urged his fellow voters to come out in large numbers and vote for the next governor. 

“I call upon fellow voters to come out in large numbers and vote. Giving up at this point will not enable us to get our next governor.”

At Mumias West where voting started late due to failure of Kiems kits resulting in voters going back home without voting.

Low turnout of voters in Kakamega County gubernatorial elections has led to early closure of polling stations giving IEBC officials an easy task. Counting of votes started immediately after the end of voting. 

Voters at a polling station

Candidates who eyed for the highly contested seat had different opinions on how the exercise was conducted.

According to Fernandez Barasa of ODM party, he lamented over voter bribery incidents across the county accusing his opponent Malala to be behind the irregularities.  He has requested IEBC to take a stiff action against him for what he says was going against the law.

“In most constituencies that I have traversed, there were reports of voter bribery. I have shared the evidence to the relevant authorities, this is an election offence,” said Barasa

His sentiments were strongly condemned by Cleophas Malala of ANC who expressed his satisfaction towards how IEBC conducted the election. 

“As a candidate, I am satisfied with the kind of preparations IEBC took to run this election.  Everything went on well, most polling stations were opened at the right time no irregularity was experienced”, said Malala.

An empty polling station

Malala admitted to conceding defeat if he loses to his opponents in a free and fair election.  He has also urged his competitors to concede too if defeated.

Suleiman Sumba, the KANU candidate, complained of failure of some of the Kiems kits in different polling stations.  According to him,  this led to the delay in the voting exercise.

At Mumias Township primary school polling station, voting was delayed for over 2 hours before the problem was resolved. This challenge was also noted at Ekero PAG in Mumias East as some voters were forced to wait longer before the issue was resolved by the ICT officials.

Ends

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