Here is a letter addressed to the IEBC written by the KCA President Dr. Menge but shared by Patriot Stephen from France. Please read it and share your thoughts in the comments box.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission
University Way, Anniversary Towers, 6th Floor,
P.O Box 45371 – 00100
Phone (254) 020 – 2769000
Dear Mr Isaack
Re: Voting arrangements for the Kenya Citizens residing abroad
I write on behalf of the Kenyan Community Abroad (KCA), an organisation incorporated in the United States of America.
Members of the Kenyan Diaspora have been watching progress in the matter of their voting very keenly. After all, our campaigns for dual citizenship go back a long time. We agitated for dual citizenship because of our need to fully and actively participate in the affairs of our country. That is, from investment to support for family members or community organisations/schools through to the electoral process. We wish to participate fully without let or hindrance.
Information on the process by which Kenyans in the Diaspora will vote is still unclear and at worst conflicting or contradictory. Various public officers have been making pronouncements that clearly contradict those of other public officers. For instance, in an address to Kenyans in Canada Mr Charles Nyachae, the CIC Chairman, made remarks about dual citizenship which created considerable concerns in the Diaspora. Then there was the pronouncement by the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Onyonka, to the effect that there will be multiple polling centres abroad to facilitate Diaspora voting. However, in your address to Kenyans in the USA, you clearly disputed Mr Onyonka’s previous announcement and, almost with a finality, declared that IEBC Commissioners have decided that we must all travel to the nearest Kenyan Diplomatic Mission to register and return there to vote. That means, a Kenyan who lives in Hawaii has to make a 20-hour return trip to Washington DC, one who resides in Suva, Fiji, will have to do a 12-hour return trip to Canberra, Australia and the same is true for many thousands of Kenyan citizens worldwide. The travel times and costs involved will be so massive that it feels like a form of punishment.
The IEBC Officers are public officers whose primary job is to serve the public interest and their decision-making should be geared to serving that public interest. How could the IEBC Commissioners make such a decision that clearly disenfranchises millions of citizens who just happen to reside outside our country’s borders?
The idea of progressive realization of the constitutional provisions is cold comfort in these circumstances. After all, all avenues must be exhausted before the IEBC raises hands in despair. Indeed, because the spirit of the law is about enabling all citizens to exercise their constitutional rights and privileges everything should be done (and seen to be done) to facilitate the exercise of those constitutional rights. The approach taken by the IEBC on the Diaspora voting issue is certain to be a subject of litigation and that serves no one’s interest.
The IEBC’s decision creates unnecessary barriers for the majority of us out here and therefore we urge you to reconsider the matter. Our main objective is to participate in and not to impede the electoral process.
In our attempt to be part of the solution we propose the following:
OPTION 1: Electronic voting. – best option
An electronic voting website can be set up with banking industry security standards quickly and affordably. This is by far the cheapest and easiest achievable option. A number of countries, eg Philippines and Australia, have used this option over the years with great success.
The Diaspora community has expertise to offer in this regard and will be more than willing to provide support if needed.
Three months is enough to set up a secure website where we can register and cast our vote. We are convinced that this is doable if the will is there.
OPTION 2: Use the services of Electoral Commissions of foreign countries (where practicable). – Second best option
Many countries have reliable and well-established electoral bodies that also offer Commercial Election Services (fee-for-service). For example, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has permanent offices everywhere in Australia and regularly provides commercial balloting services for public and private entities. In my enquiries last week last week I gathered that it is possible for the AEC to conduct polling for the IEBC to cover Kenyans who reside in Australia and the fee is would be reasonable. However, the IEBC with the assistance of the Kenya High Commission, will need to negotiate the finer details with the Australian Electoral Commission. The IEBC would then consider replicating this arrangement in countries where there are many Kenyans.
OPTION 3: OPTION 1.: Voter Registration & Voting at Kenya Diplomatic Missions Abroad – Worst Option
This option is fraught with problems. Kenyan Diplomatic Missions are often a long way from where many Kenyans live. Massive travel distances and costs will clearly deny hundreds of thousands of Kenyans the opportunity to vote. Indeed, in many cases Kenyans will have to travel across several borders to reach the Kenyan mission in order to register and return to cast their vote.
You have variously suggested that Diasporans and others who may be unhappy with the IEBC decision can seek redress in the Court. We feel the money could be spent building up a system that will enable us to vote – because that is really all that we need. That’s all.
Electronic voting remains the most inclusive, affordable and easiest option available. Please advice if your team will consider our proposal.
Dr I.O. Menge