High Court Extends Mass Voter Registration Date

The High Court has extended the Mass Voter Registration (MVR) deadline to February 19. This comes after the same court gave an order (ext. link) stopping the Independent Electoral an Boundaries Commission (IEBC) from closing the exercise on February 14 after activist Okiya Omtatah made an application to the same effect. Justice Enock Chacha Mwita directed Omtatah to serve the IEBC with the order and the application before February 16, which basically extended the MVR by two more days.

IEBC released a memo (ext. link) in confirmation of the court ruling thereby declaring the extension of MVR by two days on 15th-16 February 2017.

With the current ruling that has extended the exercise to February 19, IEBC will have to comply and extend the process which would have ended yesterday. That means Kenyans who would have been locked out by the 14th February deadline will have the opportunity to register as voters. February 14 was a hectic day for IEBC officials as many Kenyans turned out to register as voters during the last minute, which is usually the norm.

IEBC was categorical that it would not extend the registration exercise past the 14th February deadline, despite the law saying otherwise. Section 5 of the Elections Act stipulates that voter registration should continue at all times except sixty days to the election date.

The judge allowed normal and continuous registration to occur beyond the deadline of the mass voter registration. Daily Nation reports that the date is up to 17th May 2017. However, this seems to be erroneous since 17th May to 8th August is not sixty days but 82 days. Sixty days before election date on 8th August should be 8th June 2017.

IEBC says that it needs to close the mass voter registration (ext. link) to allow it to clean up the voters’ register. This will allow it to audit and present the register for verification within the stipulated timelines before the election date. Despite the court order, the decision to close the voter registration exercise continues to draw opposition from many quarters.

It remains to be seen what the implications of the court ruling will have on the registration of voters. Despite the extension of the mass voter registration period, IEBC admits that it will not meet its target of 6 milion voters when the registration process ends.

Meanwhile, IEBC vows to continue with voter registration in some diaspora areas from 20th February to 6th March 2017.


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