Election Watch : Report 3

InformAction by InformAction

ElectionWatch Report #3


InformAction March 2017

with Kura Yangu, Sauti Yangu


Kenya concluded its final mass voter registration (MVR) drive in a politically charged environment, amid shaky public confidence.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had authorized a series of controversial amendments to the electoral law just one week before the MVR, which allowed for manual registration and results transmission. The reintroduction of manual systems immediately sparked outrage and suspicion, given the history of violence around electoral manipulation.

Specifically, the new regulations allow the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to use "a complementary mechanism for identification of voters and transmission of elections results" in case the electronic systems fail. The opposition, however, insists use of manual systems will open the door to rigging. The lead up to the reforms was marked by dramatic scenes in parliament, including fistfights between MPs and a walk out by the opposition.

Public trust remained precarious despite a brand new set of IEBC Commissioners, appointed after opposition-led protests against the former commissioners, who had been plagued by allegations of corruption and partisan favoritism. The IEBC has notably failed to reach its targets. In addition to the legal and political battles, Kenya has also been hit by an upsurge of insecurity and banditry, including sub-national inter-ethnic violence around border areas.

ElectionWatch #3 presents field observations and photo evidence from the countrywide mass voter registration drive, and provides an overall analysis of voter registration in Kenya

Key Findings

*  Politicians and their agents are behaving like ethnic warlords, using coercive tactics to secure maximum votes. This includes using criminal gangs to restrict access to public places and services for citizens who cannot produce a voter registration card.

*  Registration notebooks have appeared in some registration centers, alongside Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), and are being used without apparent uniformity. 

*  Thousands of people have discovered they share the same registration numbers; yet neither the IEBC nor the National Registration of Persons have succeeded in reassuring the public this can be properly remedied in a manner that will not affect the integrity of the election.

*  Voter registration for the August 2017 election has already been marked by technological errors and failures.


InformAction is accredited with media and election observer status. It utilizes seven field teams embedded in Kericho (South Rift), Maralal (Northern Kenya), Kisii (Western Nyanza), Kisumu (Nyanza), Nyeri (Central), Isiolo (Eastern Kenya) and Mombasa (Coastal Region), and a mobile observer team from the support base in Nairobi. The teams use a combination of systematic and spot-checking observations, including video documentation and photography.

Observers use qualitative methods based on interviews, observations and document analysis, using stratified and random sampling, monitoring the experiences and actions of voters, election officials and security personnel, as well as any other actors or participants involved in the electoral process, during the pre-election, election and post-election periods. During monitoring, teams use social media internally to coordinate movements and relay and compare findings. Legal advice and research services are available to the observers at all times. The field teams also benefit from their extensive local knowledge and networks in the counties (see www.information.tv).

InformAction observers witness and document the application of constitutional standards and election regulations.

The filming, participation and consultation of individuals in this report was done with their full cooperation and consent. To prevent unauthorised access, maintain responsible data usage, and ensure the correct use of information, InformAction has obscured or removed images and evidence relating to personal identification details.


Voter registration is the gateway to the ballot box. The process is critical to determining what happens on polling day.

In Kenya, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is responsible for voter registration. Having completed two mass registration drives, as well as procedures for the registration of prisoners and Kenyans who reside in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Africa, the IEBC is now cleaning the register. A draft register will be published and made available for public verification on 10 May 2017.

It is already apparent the IEBC has significantly failed to meet its stated targets. It has as yet to explain why. In the last phase of voter registration, the Commission targeted 67 percent of the 6,117,280 Kenyans who had the requisite national identity card (ID) but were not registered. By the end of the final MVR drive, the IEBC reported that it had had managed to register approximately 3.7 million new voters, or 62 percent of the targeted total.[1] Voter education was also extremely low, typically with few personnel covering large constituencies and geographical areas.

Voter Registration in Kenya

Although the Kenyan constitution calls for continuous registration,[2] IEBC uses quasi-periodic mass voter registration drives in specific intervals leading up to elections. While these MVR exercises build on previous voters’ lists and do not require voters who previously registered to register afresh, it is not possible to easily register outside of these times. The IEBC held two such MVR processes: 15 February – 15 March 2016 (MVR I), and 17 January – 19 February 2017 (MVR II).

Kenya’s use of active registration (as opposed to passive registration), which requires citizens to actively apply for registration, is fairly common in Africa. Most African countries use active registration, mainly because national registration systems are not always existent. Where they are, they do not consistently include current residential address data.[3] In one study of eight African countries, only one (South Africa) used continuous registration. The remaining seven countries used a periodic registration process. In addition, many African countries - recognizing that large parts of the population live in rural areas with minimal infrastructure, and suffer from poverty - embrace open and broad ID options. Kenya is one of only six African countries to insist exclusively on a national ID card and national passport for registration.[4]

The Political Stakes of Registration

In Kenya, voter registration has long been contentious, mainly because the stakes of winning elections are so high. Kenyan society has become deeply divided along ethnic and class lines. Unresolved, historical grievances between groups provide easy fodder for politically motivated fear mongering in the lead-up to elections. This is apparent in the pre-election period, which has already had its share of hate speech around voter registration. One of the most prominent examples is Aden Duale, National Assembly Majority Leader, who allegedly told his supporters to prevent members of the Kamba community from registering to vote.[5] It is easy for registration to spark inter-ethnic animosity and tension, because perceived disenfranchisement of certain communities can reflect long-standing grievances about which communities have disproportionate access to power, and which communities have been denied.

As the gateway to the ballot box, it is clear why voter registration can be such a high-stakes political activity, especially in divided societies with winner-take-all electoral systems. Indeed, targeted registration suppression is increasingly used to disenfranchise significant parts of the population. Civil society organizations in Zimbabwe described the unequal conduct of registration activities in urban versus rural areas and unequal treatment of voters who were perceived to be opposition supporters.[6] In the United States, analysts found that state-sanctioned purges of the voters’ rolls disproportionately targeted young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, all of whom tend to be supporters of the Democratic Party.[7]

It is important to note that voter registration is never perfect; there will never be an absolutely accurate register, even in the most developed countries, because the population is always changing. There is a constant stream of newly eligible voters, voters who have died, and voters who have changed residence.  But, given Kenya’s history, it is essential to establish minimum acceptable standards before the poll, rather than resort to the ‘never perfect’ defense in the face of significant flaws and low pubic confidence.

Voter Registration Explained

Voter registration is the process of creating a list of all eligible voters within a specified geographic location, and is the single most expensive activity in the electoral cycle.[8] It is at the heart of democratic elections, and a defining democratic process. Voter registration facilitates the realization of universal suffrage, providing a basic human right – the right to vote.

There are three principle types of voter registries, each of which entails different administrative capabilities and resources. Periodic registration results in a periodic list, which is established for a particular election. Continuous registration results in a continuous list, which is regularly updated and maintained to reflect newly eligible voters, deaths and changes of residence. Both the periodic and continuous registration systems are known as “active” systems because they require eligible voters to take action themselves to be registered. The third type of voters’ registry is one that comes directly from a country’s civil registry. The latter method, and any other method that relies on state databases to populate a voters’ registry, is also known as passive registration, meaning that it does not require input from voters. Instead, the state compiles the voters’ roll and then informs citizens of their registration status.

The voters’ registry is a critical document. It can be used to verify voters’ eligibility, augment controls on fraud, and aid in voter education. In this way, voter registration is critical for the legitimacy of the voting process:

The role of voter registration is especially important when it comes to emerging democracies: it can make or break an election. The quality of the process and the product – that is, the voters’ roll – can determine the outcome of an election and consequently the stability of the democratic institutions in a country.[9]

The voters’ list is also a valuable reference document, containing necessary information for determining the number of people per polling station, drawing equitable boundaries, and serving as the basis of calculations of voter turnout.[10]

Voter Registration in the 2017 Electoral Cycle

Unfortunately, the current voter registration cycle has suffered from many of the problematic issues that have characterized previous elections.  

As early as 2002, the former electoral management body, known as the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), was citing the costly nature of registration and recommending a review of the process.[11] After the election-related crisis of 2007-8, the Independent Review Commission – also known as the Kriegler Commission – identified many key areas for urgent reform. It echoed the ECK’s earlier finding, describing voter registration as overly expensive and inefficient. It highlighted the fact that marginalized communities encounter difficulties getting the prerequisite national identity cards, and emphasized the need for national commitment to ‘the inalienable franchise rights of Kenyan citizens’:

The voter register, as it stands today, has a low and biased coverage, as women and youth are heavily underrepresented. The registration system is outrageously expensive and has very low productivity.[12]

In 2013, voter registration was again an issue, and analysts found multiple problems and errors. Some of the most grievous problems included:

  • The existence of several voters’ registers in circulation, each with different totals,
  • Unexplained, significant changes in parties’ strongholds between the publishing of the provisional and final registers, and
  • The IEBC’s insistence that the manual list of voters, known (then) as the “Green Book,” was the true and final register.

These problems, and a host of other questions, were never sufficiently addressed in the aftermath of the 2013 election. It is unsurprising, then, that the current voter registration process was carried out in the shadow of these unresolved issues.

The most debated issue in the current electoral cycle has been that of manual versus technological procedures, results transmission and vote counting. On January 9th, 2017, Mr. Kenyatta signed the contentious 2016 Election Laws (Amendment) Bill into law, allowing the IEBC to use complementary mechanisms of voter registration, voter identification, and results transmission in case the electronic systems fail. The law affects several other parts of the electoral process, but a clause regarding ‘complementary mechanisms’ has been the cause of much discontent, because of the assumption that it refers to manual systems. The opposition denounced the law, claiming it would be used as a way for incumbents to manipulate the process and the results.[13]

The use of the manual registration – even only as complementary to technological methods - comes with serious problems, related to pre-2008 systems.  The Independent Review Commission pointedly criticized the use of notebooks, known in 2008 as ‘Black Books’:

IREC recommends that the use of Black Books be discontinued (their destruction should be seriously considered) and that the ECK consider the use of tendered ballots in the case of persons who cannot find their names in the voters’ lists.[14]

The Technology Option

Technology does not guarantee credibility[15]; but in Kenya the deep distrust for manual systems relates to a fearful history of election violence and illegality.

However, technology used in the 2013 Kenyan election suffered from massive, widespread failures.[16]  It included biometric registration, electronic voter identification kits and electronic results transmission systems. Such failures have marred elections in much of the rest of the African continent as well.[17]

Like manual systems, technology has potential transparency and manipulation issues. The use of technology places critical components of the process in a “black box.” Cleaning operations are done by computers, and advanced computerization understood by only a handful of specialists make it difficult for electoral stakeholders to observe and assess registration properly.[18]  In fact, the backbone of the legal argument put up by government lawyers in 2013 against a necessary examination of the electronic logs of the failed election server was that it was too complicated and time consuming.[19] However, so great are the vulnerabilities of manual registration and results transmission in Kenya’s recent history that technology has widely been considered the preferable option.

It is noted that voter registration for the August 2017 election has already been marked by technological problems and failures.

What the Numbers Say

As is clear in the tables below, registration rates have not dramatically increased. At the national level, the register has grown by 37 percent since 2013. 17 counties’ rates increased by less than one-third, and only two counties’ rates increased by more than 50 percent. In fact, the IEBC only met or exceeded its target in three counties: Narok, Kajiado and Mandera. It is also worth noting that IEBC’s target was based on the number of Kenyans who possessed IDs but were not registered. By failing to include all Kenyans who are eligible (those with and without IDs), the figures are skewed to reflect only a portion of the entire voting age population.

Table 1: Changes in National Voter Registration in Kenya (March 2013-February 2017)


Source: IEBC Data and Judie Kaberia. 2017. “Half of 19mm Kenyan voters are from Rift Valley, Eastern and Central.” Capital News. Available at <http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2017/02/half-of-19mn-kenyan-voters-are-from-rift-valley-eastern-and-central/>.

Table 2: Changes in Registration at the County Level (by identity of 2013 victory)

In Table 2, it is possible to graphically see how counties’ registration rates changed and to match those figures against which party won the county. Overall, eight of the ten counties that experienced the largest increases in registration since 2013 were won by CORD in the last election. Six of the ten counties that experienced the smallest increases in registration since 2013 were won by the Jubilee coalition. Notably, swing districts – or those in which neither coalition carried a clear majority – did not benefit from strong increases in registration.


Figure 1: Approximate Changes in County Voter Registration between 2013 General Election and End of MVRI (March 2013-February 2017)

Source: IEBC Data

Coercive Political Practices

The second phase of mass voter registration in Kenya was characterized by a variety of coercive practices. Politicians were intimately involved in mobilization drives, traversing the country to maximize registration of voters. Mobilization sometimes became forceful, interfering with basic freedoms and rights. While it is noted that such behavior is frequently considered a norm in Kenyan elections, it is very dangerous to accept such behavior as “normal.” Politicians who force people to register and vote are acting as ethnic warlords, which is entirely different from democratic election mobilising and education. Since the post-election violence of 2007-8, successive elections have continued the balkanization of the country and entrenched, rather than addressed, ethnic mobilization and constituencies. During the MVR, InformAction observers also witnessed people transferring their registration and voting stations out of fear, and some minority groups being told they would not be allowed to vote in certain areas. Kenya’s many criminal gangs, including Mungiki – notorious for its role in the 2007-8 election-related violence  – have been used by politicians to creative a coercive environment around voter registration.  These incidents can be a precursor to political and ethnic violence.

Mr. William Ruto, deputy president, encouraged women to reject male suitors who could not prove that they had registered as voters. At a public event, Ruto said, “I see many beautiful women in Nyamira... Do not let a man not registered as a voter disturb and ask you on a date. Ask them to show you their voters’ cards first. If they do not have the cards, tell them to get lost… This is because you never know what else somebody not listed as a voter lacks. I am asking you all to get registered.”[20]  Linking sexuality and gender to political and ethnic loyalty can also be a precursor to violence. Gender-based violence, including rape and mutilation, was widespread and systematic during the 2007-8 conflict. Politically mobilized gangs used it to ‘punish’ people, targeted by virtue of their ethnicity, for the way they were perceived or assumed to have voted.

In all regions covered, IFA observers were also concerned to personally observe and hear anecdotes of service providers demanding proof of voter registration, as a sign of political loyalty within ethnic constituencies. In some parts of the country, political leaders were involved in organizing for service providers to withhold services to those who were not registered. In Mombasa, Governor Joho ordered boda boda and tuk tuks – motorcycle taxis – and other transport drivers, to refuse to carry passengers who did not have voters’ cards. The governor also gave instructions to all county departments to refuse services to Kenyans without voters’ cards. Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir supported Joho’s announcement.[21] Similar restrictions on access to transport and market places were observed nationwide.

There were instances of faith-based organizations requiring their congregations to show proof of registration. In Embu, Rev. Isaiah Njagi, an Anglican clergyman, threatened to deny the Holy Eucharist to his congregation unless they were registered to vote. He also planned to extend the rule such that members of his congregation will have to prove they voted to receive Communion.[22] Public pressure to register was also evident on social media, where conversations sometimes took on coercive and intimidating tones. On Twitter, for example, @chiefcwangai tweeted, “MVR kicks off today 16th to Feb 14th. Those who will not register as voters will never see God.[23]






Kenyan media have also reported that political elites have paid certain chiefs, especially in Jubilee stronghold areas, to ensure that all eligible voters are registered. Elites have allegedly also supplied chiefs with lists of who is and is not registered so that chiefs can target potential registrants.[24]

An angry Job Kirira said a Mr Chris Mwema, who identified himself as Githima chief, called him. The chief wanted to know why he had not registered and even offered to pay for his fare to the nearest registration centre. “I was surprised how he got my number and also questioned him if it was his business whether I was registered. I used my passport not the ID to register and that is why they can’t find my data with IEBC,” said an angry Kirira.[25]

While voting is a civic duty in any democracy, it is not mandatory in Kenya. Withholding services based on lack of voter registration is illegal and contrary to the constitution, which outlaws discrimination (Article 27) and enshrines the right to fair administrative action (Article 47).

IFA field teams observed and noted the following

  • Some boda boda drivers said they ‘encouraged’ each other to register: it was not clear whether this included enforced consequences for non-registration. In East Gem Ward in Homa Bay County, boda boda drivers told IFA observers that no one in the group should be without a voters’ card.[26]
  • In Kisumu County, voter registration was marred by the use of criminal gangs, including “American” and “42 Brothers,” preventing people from entering certain areas without proof of registration. These gangs were also involved in setting fires at roadblocks, intimidating and coercing citizens to register.[27]

Voter Bribery

Kenyan law bans voter bribery, but the exchange of money and/or goods for votes is commonplace. In a recent survey commissioned by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, 56 percent of respondents said they had received a bribe from a political party or candidate. The majority of respondents also revealed that they do not mind voting for candidates who pay bribes. Many respondents, however, acknowledge that voter bribery is a form of corruption. They explain it is a norm: many candidates engage in the practice and do not face consequences.[28]

IFA field teams observed the following incidents related to voter bribery

  • At Isiolo Stadium, IFA field teams saw a parked car with politically affiliated agents. The agents were seen paying people to register. The agents recorded the individuals’ names in a notebook.[29]
  • In Bomet County, an open meeting was called at Fair Hills Hotel by Bomet County Commissioner. The press was excluded. During the meeting, which included local chiefs, a local official and local politician offered Ksh 5,000 to any elder who could register at least 100 voters.[30]
  • At one registration centre in Samburu County, there were maize bags next to IEBC clerks. No explanation was forthcoming. [31]











Other Issues 1 - An IEBC clerk seated next to a bale of ugali packets

Security Concerns

The 2017 election cycle has already been marred by serious security breaches. These have ranged from intimidating hate speech to targeted attacks on registration centers. In mid-2016, eight politicians from both main political coalitions were arrested for allegedly engaging in hate speech. In early February 2017, MPs Ferdinand Waititu and Moses Kuria, who both allegedly advocated in support of physical injury to or death of CORD leader, Raila Odinga, were acquitted. A magistrate’s court cleared the pair, citing insufficient evidence.[32] Tobiko called the ruling “strange” and deemed it a “severe setback” in the fight against hate speech.[33] Following the ruling, DPP Keriako Tobiko said he would appeal the decision. There have also been physically violent incidents. In Baringo North and Marakwet East, 14 people, including a chief, died in ten days.[34] This violence reflects similar border disputes in several other parts of the country.[35] In addition to these incidents, parts of the Rift Valley have experienced rising levels of pre-election violence.

InformAction Observer Findings

This section shows the principle findings in the second and final Mass Voter Registration, conducted from January 16 – February 19, 2017. The findings have been organized into the following sections:

  1. National Identification (ID) Process

                        ID applications and delay

                        Uncollected ID cards

                        ID and registration Errors

                        Transfer Applications                            

  1. Equipment Error and Failure

Biometric Voter Registration (BVR)

  1. Manual Notebooks

Black, Green, White, and ECK notebooks

Irregular data collection

  1. IEBC Field Performance

Organisation of registration centers


Handling of Observers

Section 1: National Identification Cards

Kenya has struggled to create and implement a functional, efficient ID processing system since Independence. Citizens who apply for IDs must wait several months – sometimes years – to receive IDs, as covered extensively in ElectionWatch#2.[36] The lack of a national ID is a significant problem because the ID is required for employment, for medical services and for a host of other services. Kenyans lacking an ID are penalized, and sometimes criminalized, for not having one. Since national IDs are also required for voter registration, the state’s inefficiency potentially disenfranchises a significant portion of the population, especially those categorized as ‘border communities’.

In 2002, the ECK recommended that voter registration be merged with the national ID application process. According to the ECK, combining the two processes would significantly reduce costs and improve efficiency.[37] In 2008, the Independent Review Commission again recommended that voter registration be based on the civil registry

The difficulties faced by this office in registering and issuing identity cards to all eligible Kenyans have negatively affected the ECK’s ability to capture the entire mass of Kenyans who have the legal right to register as voters. Proposals to rationalise the efforts of both agencies are already under consideration, with the aim of enfranchising as many as possible of those eligible to vote. This deserves priority attention…[38]

To date, the two processes remain separate and Kenyans continue to struggle to ascertain IDs.

During the current pre-election phase, the problem with obtaining IDs has again been a significant issue. In order to address the problem, and as the IEBC struggled to meet its targets, some political leaders attempted to loosen identity restrictions around registration. President Kenyatta made several promises, including an expedited, three-day identity card processing time[39], telling citizens they could use waiting cards instead of identity cards to register.[40] But this did not translate into reality; as detailed below, it was rarely carried out in practice. In fact, the IEBC announced that waiting cards are NOT accepted for the purposes of registration.[41]

In some cases, there were attempts by local officials to reduce the waiting time. In Bomet, the IFA team noted that Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter told chiefs not to ask for birth certificates from those who were attempting to register. In Kabianga, Kericho County, the Deputy President, William Ruto, ordered chiefs to issue IDs to youth without asking for birth certificates or baptismal cards.[42] However, lack of policy compounds the problem rather than solves it, opening the door to fraud and error.

The pre-election cycle has been marred by other ID-related problems.  One of the most troubling issues has been that of shared ID numbers.

Shared ID numbers

In February 2017, the IEBC confirmed that 128,926 registered voters share their ID or passport numbers with others, including 107,777 who had the same ID numbers but different names, and 53,671 whose details were shared by more than one other person.[43] Those affected included prominent politicians, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, and former presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, whose IDs were used to register other voters.[44][45]

In response, the IEBC notified affected Kenyans that they had ten days to report to IEBC constituency offices to correct the problem. It said those who failed to do so risked being purged from the voters’ roll.[46]  However, IEBC has no jurisdiction over ID numbers, which is the responsibility of the Registrar of Persons. IFA teams reported that in some field offices the IEBC claimed that the problem of shared ID numbers would not prevent eligible voters from casting ballots because the Commission issues unique numbers to all voters. According to the IEBC, this number can be used as an identifying number on Election Day. The approach is confusing and has raised many unanswered questions: namely, how does the unique number from IEBC relate to the national ID?

When the story first broke Jan 24,th the IEBC said there were 128,000 shared ID numbers. On Feb 4,th it published a list of 78,000 voters who share IDs. There have since been a number of different lists of those sharing numbers and names. 

It should be noted that in Kapmaso Registration Centre in Kabianga Ward, Kericho County, the clerks told IFA observers that they got an average of three cases a day regarding shared ID numbers.

IFA field teams observations on ID-related issues

Many of these observations concern deviation from process and delay, which are most frequently explained as opportunities for corruption or as opportunities for obstructing the participation of minority groups.

  • Denis Maigah went to the Assistant Chief of Machango, Kericho Town, to request a confirmation letter, which was necessary for him to apply for an ID card. He was told that he needed to produce a title deed or land purchase agreement to confirm that he was in fact a resident of the area. When beginning the application, he had presented his mother’s ID, which showed her as being resident in Nandi County, North Rift. The chief knew, however, that she had bought land and lived in Machango, Kericho, for ten years. Denis then moved to a neighbouring area (Keongo), where he was finally able to get a letter from the local Assistant Chief.[47] This is typical of unnecessary and unpredictable demands from local officials who, it must be assumed, know the correct procedure.








IDs 1 - Denis Maigah with letter from Keongo’s assistant chief

  • IFA observers witnessed Kenyans queuing for collection of ID cards nationwide. In many instances, field registration offices told waiting crowds that the delay was the fault of the Nairobi offices of the Registrar of Persons, which was not expediting the processing.
  • At Kiplokyi Market, Bomet, Rift Valley, over 300 youth and adults gathered outside the Registration of Persons office. An area chief later told them that the exercise had been adjourned. Youth threatened to protest in response.[48]  This indicates the level of inefficiency and frustration typical in attempting to acquire an ID in many regions.






IDs 2 - Waiting for IDs in Bomet County (left) and waiting for IDs in Kisii County (right)[49]

  • Kevin Otieno of Rongo, Migori County, Nyanza, applied for an ID on 22 January 2016. He followed up throughout the year but no card has been issued. He has now been advised to register again. On Jan 24, the Rongo District Registrar of Persons claimed Kevin’s form was sent to Nairobi on 22 Feb 2016. He blamed the National Registrar of Persons for the delay and problems.[50]









IDs 3 - Kevin Otieno, Rongo, Migori County

  • In Changamwe constituency, Mombasa County, a young man (below) shows his Waiting Card and reports that he was told he would have to wait for two months after the MVR to receive his ID.[51]  As the IEBC announced that the register would be closed on Feb 19,th this person will not be allowed to vote.













IDs 4 - In Changamwe, Mombasa County

Uncollected ID Cards

IFA observers noted the many uncollected ID cards in various offices around the country. It is unclear why such backlogs exist, but there is a clear and concerning gap between the experience of the citizens who are waiting for IDs, and the attitude of the government offices that refuse to take responsibility for the delays.

  • In Ainamoi sub county office in Kericho County, Rift Valley, observers noted over 2500 uncollected IDs.[52]


IDs 5 - Uncollected IDs in Ainamoi in Kericho County

  • The Office of the Registrar of Persons in Ainamoi has over 2000 new, uncollected IDs. It is also in possession of lost ID cards that have yet to be collected.[53]
  • There was an entire box of uncollected IDs in the Sotik Registration of Persons office in Bomet County, Rift Valley.[54]
  • At Isiolo Central Office, there are many uncollected IDs as well as duplicate IDs. Isiolo Commissioner George Natembeya told IFA observers that quick processing of ID applications ‘is only possible in Nairobi’. Isiolo is classified as a border community, and suffers from protracted vetting processes.[55]









IDs 6 - Uncollected IDs in Isiolo County (left) and 203 uncollected IDS in Kisii County (right)

  • A boda boda rider displays uncollected ID cards in Ciombo Registration Centre in Muranga County, Central Region, on February 7. ID cards are given to boda boda riders after being collected from Huduma Centre by area chiefs.  Boda Boda riders were meant to trace owners and call them to register as voters. [56]

IDs 7 - Uncollected IDs in Muranga County

  • In Igembe North constituency in Meru County, local residents blame the Assistant Chief for holding ID cards. Some were processed as far back as 2012, but never received. Subsequently, the documents were, according to observers, “dumped” at the IEBC registration centre in Kawiru so that locals could access the cards. People are also allowed to collect ID cards on behalf of others, to expedite the process; but this is open to abuse.[57]  










IDs 8 - ID cards in Igembe North, Meru County

ID Cards with Errors

  • People demonstrated errors on their ID cards. In one case in Nyeri County, Central Region, a woman explained that the details on the card were correct but the photo of her was that of another person (photo 1). In another case, a woman received two ID cards, each with a different photo (Photo 2).[58]







IDs 9 - ID with errors







IDs 10 - Christopher Mesta Lemaletian, Samburu County, with an ID and his particulars, but the picture is not his.

IFA field teams noted the following cases of citizens who found that they shared their ID numbers with others

  • A man in Mvita Constituency, Mombasa County, said he was discovered he shared his ID number with one other person.[59]
  • At Kapkesosio Centre, Nyongores Ward, Chepalungu Constituency, Bomet County, IFA observers learnt there were 81 people with the same ID number.[60]
  • In Nyeri County a man found that he shared his national ID number with someone else. The names of those who share the same ID are Hussein Guruma Mahamud and Simon Gichuru Munyeri.[61]








IDs 11 - Shared ID numbers in Mvita, Mombasa County

  • In Kapmaso Registration Centre in Kabianga Ward, Kericho County, Kipkemoi Arap Barusei shares his ID number with Sargoi Ruth Chelangat. The IEBC has given them unique numbers to allow them to vote. The clerks at Kabianga Ward said that they get an average of three such cases a day. These are recorded in a book and given to the IEBC to correct.
  • In Marsabit, however, IFA observers were told that people who have shared ID numbers are sent to the Registrar of Persons.[62]
  • Mama Sahale of Bombolulu Workshop for the Physically Handicapped shares her ID number with two other Kenyans.[63]








IDs 12 - Mama Sahale

Single-digit ID numbers

Single digit ID numbers indicate error – it is impossible in Kenya to have a single digit number for an ID.

  • The screen in Isiolo County showed the following individuals with the same single-digit ID.[64]








IDs 13 - Single Digit IDs, in Isiolo County

  • At Kotieno Primary School, Homa Bay County, Nyanza, many individuals had the same one-digit ID number.[65]







IDs 14 - Single Digit IDs, Homa Bay County

There were also several other examples of single-digit ID numbers around the country. In some places, IFA saw double-digit ID numbers.[66]

Upsurge of Applications for Transfer of Polling Stations

One of the most concerning issues in this election cycle is registration transfers, wherein citizens change the location of the centers where they were originally registered and where they will eventually cast their ballots. In some instances, IEBC clerks have noted more applicants for transfers than for registration.

During MVR 1, the IEBC received 700,000 transfer applications.[67] In the first week of MVR II, the IEBC noted that 40 percent of those Kenyans turning out were actually applying to transfer their polling stations.[68]

IFA field observers noted citizens making strategic decisions about where to register to vote, based on perceived levels of safety for particular ethnic groups.  For example, Kisiis in Migori say they were told they could register but that they will not be allowed to vote. Some people said they were afraid of being ‘blamed’ for election results. [69]  Some are moving from urban polling centres to rural areas. For example in Kisumu, people are reported to be transferring to register in rural areas they consider less likely to be affected by election-related political violence.

The IEBC has also responded to the upsurge in transfers, raising concerns that politicians were organizing the transfers in an attempt to boost their potential vote share. For example, the bodyguard of Teso South MP Mary Emase was arrested for reportedly trying to register Ugandans as Kenyan voters.[70] In Nyeri, the IEBC was investigating MP Esther Murugi over claims that she was bribing voters from Tetu, Othaya and Kieni to transfer to Nyeri Town.[71] There were also suspicions raised about transfers relating to the Gubernatorial race in Nairobi.

In an attempt to prevent dubious transfer applications, the IEBC announced that it is no longer possible to apply for transfers at the ward level. Instead, applicants have to submit their transfer requests at IEBC’s constituency offices. It seems, however, the new rule had limited impact. The IEBC announced that 1,001,819 individuals applied for transfers.[72]

IFA field team observations related to transfers

  • At the Isiolo North Constituency Office of IEBC, the IFA team noticed that most transfer applicants were from Tigania West Constituency, Meru County.[73]
  • In Ainamoi Constituency, Kericho County, people say they wished to move from village polling stations to working town polling stations for the sake of convenience and ease. At the same time, it was noted aspirants were trying to engineer such transfers for their own benefit.
  • There were 12 people gathered outside Soin/Sigowet Constituency office, Kericho County, waiting for transfers. They complained about the length of time they had been kept waiting.[74]
  • In Laikipia North Constituency, Laikipia County, clerks were observed filling in voters’ transfer forms.[75]

Section 2: Equipment Error

When MVR II began, the process was severely compromised by technical problems at individual registration centers. Common problems included dysfunctional and/or nonfunctional biometric voter registration (BVR) kits; first-time registrants who found their names already on the register, and names that were missing from the register. In Nyando Constituency, alone, in Kisumu, more than 180 names were missing.[76] In Bomet, Rift Valley, IFA field teams received a printout of the names of 64 people who had various problems with registration. They were told to report to the constituency office for the resolution of the issues.[77] Such occurrences affect the confidence of the public and raise serious doubts to the validity of the entire register, especially as the same issues were evident in 2013.

IFA field teams noted dysfunctional and/or nonfunctional BVR machines in the following areas

  • The registration kit failed at Little Theatre Club Polling Station, Mvita Constituency, Mombasa County
  • Serious errors at Chebirirbea Tea Center Polling Station, Kabianga Ward, Belgut Constituency, Kericho County. The MVR kit failed to start until 12pm. An ICT expert eventually arrived, but people in line were told to leave and come back later.
  • At Chumani Primary, Mombasa, the MVR kit had a battery problem and the password for the BVR kit failed – registration had not started as of noon, 10 February.[78]

IFA field teams noted the following cases of citizens who went to register to vote for the first time but found that they were already in the register

  • At Mikindani Social hall in Jomvu Constituency, Mombasa County, a man told IFA observers that although he had never registered before, he found his details in the BVR machine.[79]






Technical Problems 1 - Mikindani Social Hall

  • At St Mary’s Registration Centre in Kisii County, Mary Obaga said that her name was already in the register, despite the fact that she had never previously registered. She was sent to the IEBC’s constituency office to follow up.[80]

IFA field teams also noted cases of citizens who had registered previously, but found they were no longer in the register

  • In Mombasa, one man demonstrated that he had registered for the 2013 election by showing his previous voter’s card. He was not found in the current register.[81]
  • Two women at Kipsing Primary School, Isiolo County, voted in 2013 but their names were not found in either the BVR kit or the manual ‘Green Book’ (see below). The clerks at this centre said they had come across five such cases. They also said there had been three cases in which names had been missing in the BVR kit but had been found in the Green Book.[82]








Technical Problems 2 - Kipsing Primary School, Isiolo

Issues with Names

  • Simon Onti Thomas went to register at Oldonyiro Primary School, Isiolo North Constituency, Isiolo County, but he found that his ID number was listed under the name Simon Onti Locale.[83]









Technical Problems 3 - Thomas at Oldonyiro Primary School

Section 3: Manual Notebooks

Use of Notebooks (aka Green Books/Black Books/White Books/ECK Books) for Manual Recording of Registered Voters

According to the newest amendments to the Kenyan electoral law, the IEBC is permitted to use non-technological voter registration methods that are complementary to technological processes.

During the course of MVR II, IFA observers witnessed widespread use of notebooks, commonly known as “Black Books”, as used by the pre-2010 election commission, the ECK. IEBC personnel recorded registration details in these notebooks. The understanding is that these manually created lists will be used in an unspecified manner as “backups” in case technology fails.

The potential problems with this manual system are numerous, they include:

  • the lack of one, comprehensive register
  • the inability to check the phenomenon of multiple voting in different polling stations
  • the length of time required to find names in the notebooks on election day
  • serious difficulty in providing security for thousands of such books.

The IEBC has failed to convince the public so far that this is anything more than a shadowy and disorganised parallel manual system, and there is significant concern about how the register is organized.

At this time, IFA understands that there could be a minimum of three registration lists

  1. The list that is created electronically through the BVR
  2. The list that is hand written in the notebooks
  3. The list that is transcribed from the handwritten notebooks on to a computer that is then printed out

This raises questions. If there is a print out of the Black Book on voting day, why do the original Black Books also have to be present? It’s a system that appears to be obviously vulnerable to manipulation – additional names could be added to the Black Book while claiming they were an error.

IFA field teams observed the IEBC using Black/Green/White books in

  • Kirua Ward, Meru County
  • Burai Ward, Isiolo North Constituency
  • Mvita Constituency, Mombasa County
  • Shanzu, Mombasa County             
  • Kaaga Primary School, Meru County
  • Bobaracho Registration Center, Kisii County
  • Homa Bay town in Homa Bay County
  • Mtwapa Kilifi County
  • Kipsegon Primary, Nyongores Ward, Chepalungu Constituency, Bomet County
  • Maralal, Samburu County
  • Laisamis Constituency, Marsabit County
  • Nyeri County
  • Kirimiri, Makuyu Ward, Muranga County
  • Nyongores Ward, Chepalungu Constituency, Bomet County
  • Magarini Constituency, Kilifi County
  • Kunyak Ward, Kericho County
  • Lenguruma Primary School, Isiolo North Constituency





Manual Registration 1 - Kaaga Primary School, Meru County (left), Laisamis Constituency (middle) and Interior of Green Book, Laisamis Constituency (right)







Manual Registration 2 - Kirua Ward (left), Mtwapa Shimo la Tewa Constituency (middle), Mvita Constituency (right)






Manual Registration 3 - Shanzu

  • IFA field teams also observed some registration centers in Homa Bay and Muranga using books with ECK labels on them (“ECK Black Book”).








Manual Registration 4 - Use of the ECK Black Book (left) and use of the ECK Black Book in Muranga (right)

IFA field teams did not observe manual registration by notebook in the following locations:

The use of notebooks shows worrying inconsistency. The IEBC seems intent on using a complementary manual system, but it is not evident everywhere.

  • Kiamuturia Registration Centre, Kirinyaga County[84]
  • Ngareng’iro, Laikipia County[85]
  • In Laikipia North Constituency Laikipia County, no Green Books had arrived.
  • In some areas of Marsabit County Green Book arrived in the third week of the MVR
  • At Kasimba Primary School in Homa Bay County, the clerks said they have not been told anything about using Green Books. They used a different manual system: the clerks use questions from Form A (used when applying for an ID or passport) and record the answers in a note pad.[86]

IFA field teams observed irregular use of green books/manual registration in the following locations

  • In Nyeri County, the ‘Green Book’ was a Counter book. It was actually a notebook with names of people who want to transfer; people brought to register by boda boda drivers; and, people missing from the register. There were many of these books. The application forms were not in all places. Also, in the places where there were applications, they were not all signed those registering. In some places, staff were not filling in the forms as required.[87]
  • In Samburu East Constituency, the books had 4 columns – name; ID; serial number; and signature. Some people used thumbprints. In other books, they were putting voter slip serial numbers in that same column.[88]
  • In PandPier registration centre in Kisumu Central Constituency, Kisumu County, observers saw Forms A being used but did not see Green Books.[89]
  • In Kasimba Primary School, Homa Bay County, and in Isiolo County, the Black/Green/White books were seen, but they were not being filled in during registration. Instead, clerks said that people had to fill in Forms A, which would then be transferred to the books. IFA field teams noted, however, that there was a column in the Black/Green/White books that required signatures from potential voters.[90]









Manual Registration 5 - Notebooks and Forms A in Homa Bay

  • At Lenguruma Primary School, Isiolo North Constituency, Isiolo County, there were pages of the Green Book, which had been cancelled/crossed out. The clerk did not understand why he had been given such a book. When the BVR kit was searched, some of the names that were crossed out in the Green Book were found in the BVR.[91]








Manual Registration 6 - Lenguruma Primary School

  • At Kotetni Voter Registration Centre in Kunyak Ward, Kericho County, the Black Book was labeled with the name of a different ward (Chilchila Ward).[92]






Manual Registration 7 - Gothetni Registration Centre (left), interior of black book in Gothetni Registration Centre     (middle) and interior of black book in Gothetni Registration Centre (right)        

  • In Laisamis Constituency, Marsabit County, staff were using IEBC serial numbers to register persons in the Green Book instead of signatures. Standard practice use of the Green Book requires IEBC officials to use signatures of those registered as proof that the entry is real and was taken with the owner’s consent.








Manual Registration 8- In Laisamis Constituency, a green book with a mix of signatures and thumbprints from voters. 

  • In PS 017, Kirimiri, Makuyu Ward, Muranga, IEBC was using ECK black books as reference books.[93]
  • In Magarini Constituency, Kilifi County, Returning Officer Hellen Sidi said she was telling her staff to cover the ECK book with the IEBC sticker.[94]

Section 4: IEBC Field Performance

 Logistical Issues during MVR II

IEBC officials and registrants faced several logistical hurdles during MVR II. These varied, ranging from inconsistent hours at registration centers to a lack of security around BVR kits.

IFA field teams notes several sites in which IEBC clerks and staff were not wearing IEBC attire

  • At Suneka Baraza Hall, Bonchari Constituency, Kisii County the registration clerk was not in IEBC attire.[95]
  • At Lugwe Registration Centre, Rabai Constituency, Kilifi County IEBC clerks were working without the IEBC reflector jackets.[96]
  • In Kembu Ward, Bomet East Constituency, Bomet County the IEBC clerk had no official jacket. One official was seated on the floor.[97]
  • In the chief’s office at Kaptien, Bomet County clerks were not in IEBC attire and there was no banner to identify the location as a registration centre.[98]








Logistical Issues 1 - Kembu Ward in Bomet East Constituency, Bomet County

  • At Eronge Registration Centre, Kitutu Chache North Sub-County, Kisii County IEBC clerks did not have IEBC-issued reflector jackets and the banner outside was not labeled.[99]






Logistical Issues 2 - Eronge Registration Centre

  • In Kotora Primary, Homa Bay County there was no clearly labeled IEBC banner.[100]
  • Once registration was extended beyond 14 February, it was common to see centers without identifying banners around the country.[101]
  • At Sigor Primary, Bomet County, clerks did not have IEBC attire. Additionally, one IEBC staff member was away for a protracted period around lunchtime.[102]
  • IEBC clerks at KPA Hall Mbaraki, Mvita Constituency, Mombasa County did not have IEBC reflector jackets.[103]
  • IFA observed an unmanned registration desk in Samburu West Constituency, Samburu County. A spot check by the field team found the Voter Registration Clerks not at their desks during the registration exercise.  The registration equipment was not guarded securely during the entire voting exercise. 








Logistical Issues 3- Unmanned voter registration desk in Samburu West Constituency

  • In Kathutura polling station in Laikipia North Constituency, Laikipia County, the IFA team came across IEBC officials using different kits to register members of Samburu and Turkana community. The reason given was that it was being done separately to ‘keep the peace’.





Logistical Issues 4- IEBC forced to register two warring tribes separately in Laikipia County.

  • At Kirish nursery polling station in Samburu East constituency, IEBC officials were seated on the ground for the registration process.






Logistical Issues 5- IEBC officials working in harsh conditions in Samburu County.

IEBC did not consistently open and close registration centers on time

  • Most centers in Thika and Juja in Kiambu County opened in the afternoon, by which time people had given up and gone home. Opening was initially delayed because of BVR failure.[104]
  • IEBC clerks were late at KPA Hall Mbaraki, Mvita Constituency in Mombasa County. The centre opened at 10:30am instead of 8:00am.[105]
  • At Bitare Registration Centre, Kisii, there was an obsolete IEBC poster with a voter verification number (15872) and handwritten dates acting as notification of registration times.[106]

IFA field teams noted other logistical irregularities

  • A failed BVR kit was transported in a Rickshaw taxi from the registration centre back to the regional in Mombasa County. There was no visible security for the journey.[107]






Logistical Issues 6 - Moving BVR kits by tuktuk in Mombasa County

  • Suneka Baraza Hall in Kisii County was gazetted as a registration centre, but it is a half- constructed building.[108]







Logistical Issues 7 - Suneka Baraza Hall in Kisii County

  • In other locations, where registration centers were set up in or near schools, curious children were observed inspecting the technology, screens and books, potentially disrupting registration activity and security.[109]
  • At Lodokejek Registration Centre in Samburu County, the IEBC used a wheelbarrow as a table.[110]













Logistical Issues 8 - Lodokejek Registration Centre in Samburu County

  • At Iftin Registration Centre, Garissa County, there was no backdrop provided for taking photos. IEBC used makeshift gray material, which had to be held up by individual staff.[111]







Logistical Issues 9 - Makeshift backdrop in Garissa

  • In Isiolo County, the IEBC used banners labeled with information from the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), which functioned from 2009-2011, at registration centers.[112]

Lack of Transparency related to Observing

Although media and observers are permitted to witness and watch voter registration, IFA observers faced obstacles in certain parts of the country, despite accreditation.

Obstruction of observers is of significant concern. When observers do not have access to the process, it impedes transparency and accountability, potentially impacting the long-term legitimacy of the election.

  • IFA field teams encountered significant resistance from IEBC clerks in Kericho.  At Kedowa Market, Kericho County, clerks were generally unwilling to talk and one clerk stood up to insist that observers stop taking photos. At Kerenget Primary Kamwingi, Kericho County, the clerk would not respond at all. Finally, he insisted that observers go to the constituency office for information.[113]
  • In Mathira Constituency in Nyeri, at Registration Centre 0481, the clerk refused to talk. He took photos of the IFA observers.[114]
  • At Chepseon in Kericho County, the supervisor at the registration centre told IFA to go to the constituency office. The Constituency Coordinator, Mr Mutai, was welcoming and participated in a meeting.[115]
  • At Kerenget Primary Kamwingi, Londiani in Kericho County, the registration clerk (Mwangi) refused to talk to IFA observers.[116]
  • In Isiolo, the IFA team was denied permission to film at IEBC’s Isiolo constituency office, where voter transfers were taking place. The regional coordinator said that filming would cause commotion and that filming could only occur in field offices.

Security incidents

  • In Nyeri, IEBC field staff and clerks were responsible for arranging and overseeing logistics for transporting kits, which sometimes included overnight stays with the kits. No security was provided on these occasions.[117]
  • IFA observers witnessed Jubilee supporters burning tires to protest against the NASA rally in Bomet County. The protest hindered registration activities while it was going on[118]

Other concerns are a more general indication of the security environment in some of the regions; or, projected election-related fears and misgivings. IFA noted that some citizens are making strategic decisions about where to register to vote, based on perceived levels of safety for particular ethnic groups. For instance, there are Kisiis in Migori County who were told they can register but will not be allowed to vote locally. Some people say they are afraid of being blamed for voting the ‘wrong’ way. [119]

In early February, militants attacked an army camp in Mandera and reportedly stole three BVR kits. The state blames Al-Shabaab, but the group denied that it was involved.  In response, the IEBC claimed that the data on the kits had already been backed up and was secure.[120]

IFA notes that the IEBC endeavored to keep aspirants away from registration centers

  • In Changamwe in Mombasa County, the IEBC made sure that parties, candidates and agents should not be present at registration centers. There was a printed sign saying that no aspirants or agents were allowed to be in the vicinity of voter registration centers.[121]









Public notices posted in English and Swahiii in Changamwe, Mombasa County, warning aspirants and agents to stay away from registration centres (‘Kindly note that no aspirants or agents are allowed to stay within the voter registration centers’)

  • In Nyeri, IEBC field staff and clerks were responsible for arranging and overseeing logistics for transporting kits, which sometimes included overnight stays with the kits. No security was provided on these occasions.[122]
  • IFA observers witnessed Jubilee supporters burning tires to protest against the NASA rally in Bomet, Kericho County. [123]
  • Some citizens are making strategic decisions about where to register to vote, based on perceived levels of safety for particular ethnic groups. For instance, Kisiis in Migori were told they could register but would not be allowed to vote locally. Some minorities expressed fear of being ‘blamed’ for voting choices. [124] (See also Transfer Applications).

In early February, militants attacked an army camp in Mandera and reportedly stole three BVR kits. The state blames Al-Shabaab, but the group denied that it was involved.  In response, the IEBC said that the data on the kits had already been backed up and was secure.[125]


The MVRII process was significantly flawed, and risk the credibility of the remainder of this electoral process.

One of the most urgent problems is the lack of access to national IDs. Without accessible, efficient and reliable ID-processing procedures, significant portions of the eligible Kenyan electorate remain disenfranchised. In the long term, the delays and problems associated with obtaining a national ID can increase voter apathy and decrease turnout, and lead to a loss of faith in democratic governance.

Other urgent problems include the lack of clarity around use of manual systems, the upsurge in transfer applications, and opaque data security and back-up procedures. While it is clear that technical systems can and do fail, the use of manual registration, voter identification and results transmission systems must be accompanied by regular public explanations and trusted, independent oversight of such procedures. In the Kenyan context, the involvement of a trusted, third party could go a long way in creating and maintaining public trust.

Overall, it is of great concern that the pre-election period is heading into increasingly dangerous political territory, with coercive and chauvinistic behavior accepted as a normal part of the Kenyan election landscape

The IEBC is at a pivotal moment. If it can assertively and comprehensively address the issues raised, there is still time to renew faith in the Kenyan electoral process.


Recommendations to the IEBC

Ensure transparency of the cleaning of the register by publicly explaining how the list will be refined and revised. Additionally, develop an agreement for observation of the cleaning process with an independent, third party who has the technical expertise and political credibility to review and assess the process.

Partner with a reputable, recognised expert team or organization to conduct a holistic and transparent audit of the voters’ register. This audit should cover the registration process and make use of the Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT) rules. It should also cover the list of registered voters. This part of the audit should use the “list to voters” and/or “people to list” methods.

Create and publicize technological back-up plans for cases in which the BVR and electronic voter identification (EVID) kits do not work properly and/or fail to function. This should be accompanied by public testing of the EVID and BVR kits so that citizens can understand how the machines work and what to expect at the registration and polling centers.

Create and publicize procedures to deal with common problems, such as names missing from the register and first-time registrants who find their names inexplicably existent in the register. These procedures must prioritize voters’ rights and be as expedient and efficient as possible so that eligible voters are not unfairly disenfranchised. Sufficient safeguards against fraud must be in place and the IEBC must educate the public about the systems.

Urgently harmonize use and terminology of the notebooks used for manual collection of registration data.  Commit to election reforms that prioritize eliminating the so-called Black Books completely in future elections.

Publicize the role of the Black Books in voter registration and for election day identification. The new law allows for manual registration, voter identification and results transmission as complementary to digital processes. Clarify exactly when voters should see and expect manual processes and how those processes will work. Public explanations should include the following details:

  • What data will be recorded,
  • Whose signatures are required,
  • How the data will be secured.
  • How discrepancies between manual and digital records will be reconciled.

The IEBC also must urgently explain how the issue of shared IDs will be treated in the so-called Green Books:

  • Are cases of shared IDs recorded there, or not?
  • How can manual books keep track of such cases in different polling stations across the country?

Provide and prioritize equitable resources, capacity and staff to all areas of the country, with particular attention to marginalised areas. Survey, anticipate and address the lack of services, electricity and infrastructure in locations where it is likely to interfere with the rights of all citizens to register and vote satisfactorily.

Include the entire voting age population in calculations related to voter registration and voter turnout. Given the widely acknowledged problems with obtaining national IDs in Kenya, it is unfair to base registration calculations on only those citizens in possession of IDs.

Ensure that IEBC staff maintains professional consistency in all areas of the country. All staff on duty must have uniforms and identification; centers must have clearly and accurately labeled banners for location identification. Equipment used in IEBC processes should be standard and uniform so that all voters are treated equally. Consistency necessarily includes timing – IEBC registration and polling centers must maintain requisite hours.

Security must be taken seriously. Equipment and data must be backed up and stored. Moreover, it is important to secure all stations and centers such that voters can enter and exit safely and securely. To achieve this, stakeholders should decide on whether or not to station security and/or police forces at centers and stations.

Respect election observation, whether performed by local or international accredited observers. The IEBC must inform all staff, at all levels, that accredited observers are permitted to observe electoral processes. It is critical to a credible process that IEBC officials and staff do not obstruct the work of such observers, and understand they do not have the right to confiscate the observers’ materials and equipment in the course of their duties.

Voters must remain free to choose where they vote; and regulations must also be designed to prevent politically manipulative transfers. IEBC staff need to be adequately trained to recognize and respond to irregular behaviors related to transfers, such as an above average amount of applications, or large groups of applicants arriving together.

Recommendations to the National Registrar of Persons and the IEBC

It is critical that the state addresses the serious problems related to processing and issuing of national ID cards. Every Kenyan is entitled to fair and timely process in obtaining this vital document. The state should seriously consider merging the application processes for registration and IDs, to reduce the significant resources and costs required for registration; and consider accepting identification other than national IDs so that eligible Kenyans without IDs are not disenfranchised.

Restore public confidence by clarifying immediately how it is possible for multiple Kenyans to share the same ID number. Create and publicize a plan to correct the issue. There is urgent need for the IEBC to explain how it will ensure that eligible voters with the same ID number can vote on election day.

IEBC must also address the anxiety without delay over its own system of unique ID numbers. Specifically:

  • What purpose do these numbers serve, and why are they necessary if IDs are required for registration anyway?
  • What safeguards are in place to ensure that these unique numbers are not misused to inflate the register or to facilitate other types of fraud?
  • How will this issue be addressed in the upcoming cleaning of the register?

Recommendations to Politicians

Voting is not mandatory in Kenya, and Kenyans are free to register to vote or to abstain from casting ballots. Political elites, community leaders and their agents must immediately cease coercive practices, including intimidating speech, obstruction of services to non-registrants and threats on social media. Such tactics infringe on basic fundamental rights.

Respect the confidentiality of citizens’ data. Sharing people’s information and registration status for purposes of mobilization is illegal and breaches the law regarding the confidentiality of such data.

Recommendations to the Director of Public Prosecutions

Investigate and prosecute without fear or favour those who engage in voter and registrant bribery, or use coercive tactics to force citizens to register or vote. Such activities should not be treated as a norm, as they fly in the face of democratic ideals and the law.

About InformAction

InformAction is a dynamic social justice organisation that uses film and community discussions to encourage ordinary people to speak out and take action. We operate through mobile field teams – using a car, screen, projector and camera - to show social justice films to thousands of people in the counties every week. Experienced activists lead community discussions on justice and governance, and field videographers record the discussions and local human rights abuses.

In an environment that has become increasingly hostile to civil society and freedom of expression, we use our unique methodology to provide alternative sources of information and leadership. We embrace diversity and equality, and reject all forms of economic, social and political discrimination.

Our Vision: An informed and empowered society that speaks truth to power and demands accountability and social justice.
Our Mission: To inform and empower communities in Kenya in order to catalyse public debate and action for a just and accountable society.

InformAction is part of the Kura Yangu, Sauti Yangu (KYSY) citizen movement. KYSY is spearheaded by a number of like-minded civil society organizations that have come together to proactively support Kenya’s preparations for the 2017 elections, with a view to ensuring that the country minimizes the risks related to dysfunctional electoral systems and practices. KYSY is also committed to promoting political dialogue across the country with the aim of encouraging political consensus and increasing public confidence, making the process and results more credible and legitimate.


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ElectionWatch updates are designed to inform Kenyans about the state of electoral readiness in the lead-up to the 2017 general election, and prompt public debate and conversation about the credibility of the electoral process. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


[1] Jeremiah Wakaya. 2017. “3.7mn new voters registered against 6mm IEBC target.” Captial News. Available at http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2017/02/3-7mn-new-voters-registered-6mn-iebc-target/.

[2] See Article 82(1)(c) of the Constitution of Kenya.

[3] Evrensel, 22.

[4] Tova Wang. “Voter Identification Requirements and Public International Law: An Examination of Africa and Latin America,” page 15. Available at <https://www.cartercenter.org/resources/pdfs/peace/democracy/des/voter-identification-requirements.pdf>.

[5] Nation Team. 2016. “Aden Duale under fire for ‘hate speech’ clip.” Daily Nation. Available at http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/Leaders-want-Duale-arrested-for-incitement-/1064-3508916-13p5ly5z/.

[6] Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN). 2013. “Report on the 31 July 2013 Harmonised Elections,” 29.

[7] Greg Palast. 2016. “The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters.” Rolling Stone. Available at http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-gops-stealth-war-against-voters-w435890.


[8] Evrensel, 1.

[9] Astrid Evrensel, ed. 2010. “Voter Registration in Africa. A Comparative Analysis.” Johannesburg, South Africa: EISA, 1.

[10] Evrensel, 9-10.

[11] Independent Review Commission. 2008. “Report of the Independent Review Commission on the General Elections held in Kenya on 27 December 2007.” Section 3.8 page 45.

[12] Independent Review Commission. 2008. “Report of the Independent Review Commission on the General Elections held in Kenya on 27 December 2007.” Section 5.3, page 80.

[13] Patrick Lang’at. 22 December 2016. “Kenya MPs pass contentious election law as opposition keeps off.” The East African. Available at http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/Kenyan-MPs-pass-contentious-election-laws-as-Cord-keeps-off/2558-3494942-a7tldk/index.html.

[14] Independent Review Commission. 2008. “Report of the Independent Review Commission on the General Elections held in Kenya on 27 December 2007,” page 112.

[15] Netherlands, for example, decided against using technology in the March 14, 2017, General Election, because of concerns over hacking

[16] Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice. 2013. “Election Day 2013 and its Aftermath.” Available at <http://kptj.africog.org/election-day-2013-and-its-aftermath/>.

[17] Christine Mungai. 2015. “Dirty hands: Why biometric voting fails in Africa  - and it doesn’t matter in the end.” Mail & Guardian Africa. Available at <http://mgafrica.com/article/2015-03-30-why-biometric-voting-fails-in-africa-and-why-it-doesnt-matter>.

[18] Evrensel, 3.

[19] Supreme Court petition challenging election process, March 2013; shown in ‘Kenya; A Guidebook to Impunity’, a film by InformAction

[20] Nancy Agutu. 1 February 2017. “Do not date men not listed as voters, Ruto tells beautiful Nyamira women.” The Star. Available at <http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/02/01/do-not-date-men-not-listed-as-voters-ruto-tells-beautiful-nyamira_c1498290>.

[21] Daniel Tsuma Nyassy. 20 January 2017. “Mombasa matatus reject Joho call to demand voter cards.” The Daily Nation. Available at http://www.nation.co.ke/counties/mombasa/matatus-reject-Joho-call/1954178-3620316-bxrido/.

[22] Jill Craig. 17 January 2017. “Kiss the Bride, Mourn the Dead, Register to Vote in Kenya.” Voice of America. Available at http://www.voanews.com/a/kiss-the-bride-mourn-the-dead-register-to-vote-in-kenya/3681344.html.

[23] Charles Wangai. 15 January 2017. Twitter. Available at https://twitter.com/chiefcwangai/status/820861691189661696.

[24] Fred Ngige. 2017. “Revealed: Inside Jubilee’s vote machine to beat Raila Odinga.” Standard Digital. Available at https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001228175/revealed-inside-jubilee-s-vote-machine-to-beat-raila-odinga.

[25] Fred Ngige. 2017. “Revealed: Inside Jubilee’s vote machine to beat Raila Odinga.” Standard Digital. Available at https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001228175/revealed-inside-jubilee-s-vote-machine-to-beat-raila-odinga.

[26] IFA Observers’ Notes, Homa Bay County. 23 January 2017.

[27] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kisumu County. 13 February 2017.

[28] Daily Nation. 2017. “Aspirants hope to recoup campaign cash through graft.” Available at http://mobile.nation.co.ke/news/politics/3126390-3819886-xt7rp4/index.html.

[29] IFA Observers’ Notes Isiolo County. 23 January 2017.

[30] IFA Observers’ Notes, Bomet County. 26 January 2017.

[31] IFA Observers’ Notes. Samburu County 8 February 2017.

[32] Daily Nation. 2017. “Moses Kuria, Ferdinand Waititu acquitted of hate speech charges.” Daily Nation. Available at http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/Moses-Kuria-Waititu-acquitted-of-hate-speech-charges/1064-3820342-epjrg2z/.

[33] The Star. 2017. “DPP to appeal Moses Kuria, Ferdinand Waititu acquittal in incitement case.” The Star. Available at <http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/02/20/dpp-to-appeal-moses-kuria-ferdinand-waititu-acquittal-in-incitement_c1510269>.

[34] Stephen Rutto. 2017. “End Baringo clashes now, Gideon tells Uhuru.” The Star. Available at <http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/02/27/end-baringo-clashes-now-gideon-tells-uhuru_c1513993>.

[35] See forthcoming IFA report on pre-election violence.

[36] See ElectionWatch#2 http://www.informaction.tv/index.php/news-from-the-field/item/564-election-watch-report-2

[37] Independent Review Commission. 2008.

[38] Independent Review Commission. 2008, p. 25.

[39] William Mwangi. 20 January 2017. “IDs out in three days, Uhuru says in push for voter listing.” The Star. Available at <http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/01/20/ids-out-in-three-days-uhuru-says-in-push-for-voter-listing_c1491212>.

[40] Francis Mureithi. 10 February 2017. “Uhuru: Sign up to vote or forever hold your peace.” Daily Nation. Available at http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/CAST-YOUT-VOTE-uhuru-says/1064-3808564-d261cr/.

[41] Isaac Ongiri. 12 February 2017. “Leaders in a sprint to convince potential voters ahead of Tuesday deadline.” Daily Nation. Available at <http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/Leaders-sprint-convince-voters-ahead--deadline----/1064-3809602-11df6hgz/index.html>.

[42] IFA Observers’ Notes. 20 January 2017.

[43] Felix Olick. 2017. “Cord sets high bar, demands rigorous audit of voter register.” The Star. Available at http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/01/27/cord-sets-high-bar-demands-rigorous-audit-of-voter-register_c1495309.

[44] Rawlings Otieno. 2017. “Raila’s ID in yet another double voter registration.” Standard Digital. Available at https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000231124/raila-s-id-in-yet-another-double-voter-registration.

[45] Protus Onyango. 2017. “IEBC gives notice to voters with shared ID numbers.” Standard Digital. Available at https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001228613/iebc-gives-notice-to-voters-with-shared-id-numbers.

[46] Protus Onyango. 2017. “IEBC gives notice to voters with shared ID numbers.” Standard Digital. Available at https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001228613/iebc-gives-notice-to-voters-with-shared-id-numbers.

[47] IFA Observers’ Note, Kericho County 30 January 2017.

[48] IFA Observers’ Notes, Bomet County. 6 February 2017.

[49] IFA Observers’ Notes. Kisii County 23 January 2017.

[50] IFA Observers’ Notes, Migori County. 23 January 2017.

[51] IFA Observers’ Notes, Mombasa County. 25 January 2017

[52] IFA Observers’ Kericho County. 20 January 2017.

[53] IFA Observers’ Kericho County. 20 January 2017.

[54] IFA Observers’ Notes, Bomet County. 19 February 2017.

[55] IFA Observers’ Notes, Isiolo County. 24 January 2017.

[56] IFA Observers’ Notes Muranga County. 7 February 2017.

[57] IFA Observers’ Notes, Meru County. 7 February 2017.

[58] IFA Observers’ Notes, Nyeri County. 7 February 2017.

[59] IFA Observers’ Notes, Mombasa County. 17 January 2017.

[60] IFA Observers’ Notes, Bomet County. 7 February 2017.

[61] IFA Observers’ Notes, Nyeri County. 19 January 2017.

[62] IFA Observers’ Marasbit County. 1 February 2017.

[63] IFA Observers’ Mombasa County. 20 January 2017.

[64] IFA Observers’ Notes, Isiolo County. 5 February 2017.

[65] IFA Observers’ Homa Bay County. 7 February 2017.

[66] IFA Observers’ Notes, Mombasa and Maralal Counties . 20 February 2017.

[67] Collins Omulo. 2017. “Voter transfer to be done at constituency level, IEBC says.” Daily Nation. Available at <http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/Voter-transfer-to-be-done-at-constituency-level/1064-3514246-3y1wnp>.

[68] Isaac Ongiri and Moses Odhiambo. 2017. “IEBC alarmed by huge voter transfers.” Daily Nation. Available at http://www.nation.co.ke/news/IEBC-alarmed-by-huge-voter-transfers/1056-3091572-12py2b3z/index.html.

[69] IFA Field Report. IFA Retreat 13-14 February 2017.

[70] Cyrus Ombati. 2017. “Kenyan MP escapes, bodyguard detained in Uganda over voter fraud claims.” Standard Digital. Available at <https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001227770/kenyan-mp-escapes-bodyguard-detained-in-uganda-over-voter-fraud-claims>.

[71] Trizah Wangui. 2017. “Nyeri residents threaten to call for demonstrations over mass voter transfer.” Standard Media. Available at <https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/ureport/story/2001228087/nyeri-residents-threaten-to-call-for-demonstrations-over-mass-voter-transfer>.

[72] Moses Nyamori. 2017. “Kenya’s destiny lies in the hands of 19m voters.” Standard Digital. Available at <https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001230263/kenya-s-destiny-lies-in-the-hands-of-19m-voters>.

[73] IFA Observers’ Notes, Isiolo County. 23 January 2017.

[74] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kericho County. 31 January 2017.

[75] IFA Observers’ Notes, Laikipia County. 6 February 2017.

[76] Kepher Otieno. 2017. “Raila Odinga’s double registration corrected as woman traced.” Standard Digital. Available at https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000231026/raila-odinga-s-double-registration-corrected-as-woman-traced.

[77] IFA Observers’ Kericho County. 6 February 2017.

[78] IFA Observers’ Mombasa County. 10 February 2017.

[79] IFA Observers’ Mombasa County. 30 January 2017.

[80] IFA Observers’ Kisii County 10 February 2017.

[81] IFA Observers’ Mombasa County. 18 January 2017.

[82] IFA Observers’ Isiolo County. 21 January 2017.

[83] IFA Observers’ Isiolo County. 21 January 2017.

[84] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kirinyaga County. 23 January 2017.

[85] IFA Observers’ Notes, Laikipia County. 6 February 2017.

[86] IFA Observers’ Notes, Homa Bay County. 7 February 2017.

[87] IFA Field Report. IFA Retreat. 13 February 2017.

[88] IFA Field Report, Samburu County. 13 February 2017.

[89] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kisumu County. 5 February 2017.

[90] IFA Observers’ Notes, Homa Bay County. 30 January 2017; 7 February 2017 and 13 February 2017.

[91] IFA Observers’ Notes, Homa Bay County and Isiolo County. 21 January 2017.

[92] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kericho County. 19 January 2017.

[93] IFA Observers’ Notes, Muranga. 7 February 2017.

[94] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kilifi County. 8 February 2017.

[95] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kisii County. 18 January 2017.

[96] IFA Observers’ Notes Kilifi County. 21 January 2017.

[97] IFA Observers’ Notes, Bomet County . 26 January 2017.

[98] IFA Observers’ Notes, Bomet County. 19 February 2017.

[99] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kisii County. 30 January 2017.

[100] IFA Observers’ Notes, Homa Bay County. 23 January 2017.

[101] IFA Observers’ Notes, Bomet County. 16 February 2017.

[102] IFA Observers’ Notes, Bomet County. 7 February 2017.

[103] IFA Observers’ Notes, Mombasa County. 23 January 2017.

[104] IFA Observers’ Notes, Mombasa County. 18 January 2017.

[105] IFA Observers’ Notes, Mombasa County. 23 January 2017.

[106] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kisii County. 20 January 2017.

[107] IFA Observers’ Notes, Mombasa County. 17 January 2017.

[108] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kisii County. 24 January 2017.

[109] IFA Observers’ Notes. 25 January 2017.

[110] IFA Observers’ Notes, Samburu County. 30 January 2017.

[111] IFA Observers’ Notes, Garissa County. 5 February 2017.

[112] IFA Field Team Report. IFA Retreat. 13 February 2017.

[113] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kericho County. 18 January 2017.

[114] IFA Observers’ Notes, Nyeri County. 18 January 2017.

[115] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kericho County. 18 January 2017.

[116] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kericho County. 18 January 2017.

[117] Nyeri Field Report. IFA Retreat. 13 February 2017.

[118] IFA Observers’ Notes, Bomet County. 4 February 2017.

[119] IFA Field Report, Migori County. IFA Retreat 13-14 February 2017.

[120] Manase Otsialo. 2017. “State maintains Al-Shabab stole BVR kits in Mandera.” Daily Nation. Available at http://www.nation.co.ke/counties/mandera/Shabaab-stole-BVR-Kits/1183298-3804898-4rufwa/.

[121] IFA Observers’ Notes Mombasa County. 26 January 2017.

[122] Nyeri Field Report. IFA Retreat. 13 February 2017.

[123] IFA Observers’ Notes, Kericho,  4 February 2017.

[124] IFA Field Reports, IFA Retreat 13-14 February 2017.

[125] Manase Otsialo. 2017. “State maintains Al-Shabab stole BVR kits in Mandera.” Daily Nation. Available at http://www.nation.co.ke/counties/mandera/Shabaab-stole-BVR-Kits/1183298-3804898-4rufwa/.

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