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Elections observers call for pre-polling for election officials

The Commonwealth Observer Group in Kenya have recommended early or advance voting for polling staff, security personnel, or other essential workers who are required to work on election day, away from their locations where they are required to vote.

Former Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding who is the chairperson of the 20-member group said that they would recommend to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to consider this issue in its post-election review to ensure that no Kenyan citizens are unintentionally disenfranchised in future elections.

Golding, addressing the press on Thursday commended IEBC for abiding by the constitutional provisions to allow prisoners to vote for the presidential position.

“Our group was able to observe prison voting in a number of locations. We noted, however, a significant proportion of prisoners did not have identification documents to enable them vote. We also observed released prisoners returning to prison to vote,” said Golding.

He added that traditional media have covered the election process adequately by linking the outcomes of the elections to the economy, anti-corruption and governance.

Golding noted that there was a tendency to repeat unsubstantiated information and unwarranted criticism regarding the conduct of elections without checking the accurate position with the IEBC.

“While social media has provided a cheaper alternative for marginalized group and otherwise economically excluded aspirants to discuss their issues, stakeholders generally raised concerns about online mis and disinformation and hate speech particularly that which is an incitement to violence on social media by politicians and their supporters,” noted Golding.

He said that they deployed observers to 20 counties across the country and they were impressed by IEBC’s preparedness and the way the commission handled emergency issues including postponing polls in some regions and sacking polling officials who violated electoral rules and procedures.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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