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Embrace the changing times in enticing the 18 year olds to register as voters

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The Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission (IEBC) will this week embark on a 30 day nationwide voter registration exercise commencing on Monday October 4th 2021 this is towards achieving a free and fair August 9th 2022 polls.

The commission is seeking new voters mainly the youth who attained the age of 18 after the 2017 general election and who haven’t been registered yet, the commission now seeking to recruit five million more of the said youth.

“I urge all eligible Kenyans who have not registered as voters to turn up in large numbers and do vote. All you need is having an identity card, “IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati said while unveiling four new commissioners of IEBC who replaced the four who quit after the 2017 general election.

  “We have allocated three BVR kits per ward, we are hopeful that we shall reach the target and if we don’t then we shall be doing mass voter registration next year in January,” He added.

The political class are intensifying their campaigns and leaving nothing to chance to woo the young voters to turn out and register.

Recently Nairobi Young Aspirants under the Umbrella of Young Aspirants Kenya launched a campaign targeting Universities across the country in their quest to encourage university students to register as voters.

“We have launched this campaign today because we want to encourage university students to be able to register as voters so that they are able to participate in the formation of the next government,” One of the Union’s leaders Austin Anyango said.

“In the last election the IEBC Had about 19 million registered voters but this time round we expect to have around 25 million voters majority of them being young people,” he added.

The politicians will now have to play a critical role in marshaling their supporters to register and have a slice of yet to be another swing vote constituency.

“I am urging all leaders in this country to encourage the youth to collect their Identity cards and register as voters. Only the vote will be able to change the country’s leadership to better the lives of Kenyans,” ANC Leader Musalia Mudavadi said while on a tour of Ikolomani constituency.

With numbers seemingly enticing to the politicians who are in the game to win the biggest test now is to change the targeted 5 million plus numbers of the youth to actual votes. The current slogan used by the electoral agency in encouraging the youth to register as voters is not convincing enough to the youth. The agency plus other political actors need to come up with better ways and strategies to attract the youth to register.

The 18 year olds who have just cleared secondary schools and joining campus for example need a different strategy to woo them. The best way to tap them and convince them is through social media platforms like Whatsapp, Instagram, Tiktok etc. this is the best way to reach this young people who have little knowledge of what transpired during the fight of the second liberation in this country.

The electoral agency together with the political class need to understand that currently realities have changed and so is life and so politics must change corresponding to the changing needs of society and the changing times. IEBC should keep a close eye on its messaging about voter registration to the 18 year olds and same applies to the political aspirants who want to woo them.

For example in the 2021 Georgia senate runoff elections in the USA, democratic candidate then and now Senator Thomas Jonathan Ossoff  took his campaigns to Tiktok to reach out to young voters.

He was making viral videos on Tiktok that were viewed millions of times, he was imitating popular memes while emphasizing on issues that matter to young people like student loan debt relief, raising the minimum wage and even the legalizing of marijuana.

According to IEBC the number of registered voters stood at 19.6 million as of 2017 register. The exercise now seeks to go beyond the borders with the commission now targeting diaspora voters. The commission will include 6 more countries in its diaspora list among them Canada, United Kingdom, South Sudan, Qatar, USA and United Arab Emirates this is after they met the minimum requirement of 3000 voters.

Even as the commission rolls out the voter registration exercise money is a problem, Chebukati says the commission has a deficit of 14 billion shillings of the 40 billion shillings budget.

It remains to be seen if the 5 million plus new voters will turn up to perform their civic rights and even have a say on who will occupy State house.




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