Low voter turnout mars repeat poll
Vote tallying on Friday morning started showing indications that there was a significant drop in voter turnout during the October 26 repeat presidential election as compared to the August 8 General Election.
Figures already confirmed by Wafula Chebukati, the electoral commission chair on Thursday evening showed that the voter turnout of Thursday’s poll dropped to around 33% from the close to 80% voter turnout experienced during the elections in August.
“Latest actual figures from 267 constituencies show 6,553,858 Kenyans turned out to vote,” said Chebukati on his Twitter page Thursday evening.
The 48% was a BEST estimate turnout from the team. Latest actual figures from 267 constituencies show 6,553,858 Kenyans turned out to vote. https://t.co/F01ewf79kT
— Wafula Chebukati (@WChebukati) October 26, 2017
The numbers so far sharply contrast those announced by the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission during the presidential results declared on August 11, results that have since been nullified by the Supreme Court, precipitating the repeat poll.
The announcement that declared Uhuru Kenyatta the president-elect two months ago stated that over 19 million Kenyans had registered to vote, with about 15 million showing up on election day.
“Based on the data received, the commission estimates voter turnout of 15,073,602, representing 78.91% of registered voters,” said the IEBC Chair on August 11 from the Bomas of Kenya, the electoral commission’s national tallying center.
Results streaming in on Friday had incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, leading with an overwhelming majority over all of his challengers.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga, continues to receive votes despite withdrawing from the presidential race and urging his supporters to boycott the election.
In areas perceived to be opposition strongholds, low voter turnout accompanied strong police presence as rowdy youth engaged security officers in running battles in and around some polling stations.
The heavy police presence in areas where skirmishes were observed may have influenced the low voter turnout. Paul Kilweye, a presiding officer in Kibera, said, “Our fear is that we are not even seeing people coming to vote because of the presence of police.”
Some polling stations opened late on Thursday, with some voting centers not opening at all due to logistical and security concerns, forcing the electoral commission to postpone the election in four counties; Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya and Migori to Saturday, October 28.
“We have faced and continue to face challenges which are largely security related in certain electoral areas. The commission is consulting on and assessing the prevailing security situation that affects electoral areas experiencing security challenges,” Chebukati said Thursday when confirming the new election date for those counties.
Vote of no confidence
Jubilee strongholds however showed a slightly higher voter turnout, even though the numbers were not as high as those of the August 8.
Speaking to Citizen TV on Friday morning, Chepalungu constituency Returning officer, Paul Mbugua said that the voter turnout in the area was nearly the same as that experienced in August.
“The process went on very well and the results I have show most people voted for Jubilee. The voter turnout was at 63%,” said Mbugua.
In Tetu constituency, an 85% voter turnout was a drop from the 88% of registered voters who came out to vote on August 8, as confirmed by IEBC officials.
Opposition National Super Alliance coalition however said Thursday evening that the low voter turnout experienced in the October 26 elections was a sign that Kenyans were passing a vote of no confidence against President Kenyatta.
Led by Suna East Member of Parliament Junet Mohamed, the opposition termed the low voter turnout a “referendum on Jubilee” calling on the ruling party to resign from government.
“No voting has been going on in over 60% of the country. Even in the so-called Jubilee strongholds, the turnout is below 30%. This is a no confidence vote on Jubilee,” said Junet.
Jubilee leaders however responded, with Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen saying that by the time he left his county voter turnout was already at over 70%.
“I have no doubt that by the time voting closes in Elgeyo Marakwet, the voter turnout will be around 85 to 90%.” said Murkomen.