By Michael Njuguna/ Brenda Czeda
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Wednesday commenced registration of inmates as voters in most of the 118 correctional facilities across the country and is expected to run for the next seven days.
According to IEBC, this will enable the prisoners across the country to exercise their democratic right to participate in the electoral process in compliance with the Court decision of 2013 which requires the Commission to register prisoners to participate in elections.
The commission says the exercise which was to commence on Monday failed to start as scheduled due to logistical challenges as a result of the extension of the just concluded mass voter registration exercise by the Court to February 19, 2017.
The commission says those to be registered are adult citizens who will present themselves with National ID cards, must be of sound mind, and must not have been convicted of an electoral offence in preceding five years to the elections.
The Inmates will however vote for presidential candidates only.
According to data from the department of correctional services, there are 49,867 prisoners in 118 prisons across the country.
This number includes those with National IDs and those without.
Meanwhile, the IEBC has fallen short of its target of registering between 4 to 6 million new voters in its final Mass Voter Registration exercise before the August polls.
Figures released by the Electoral body indicate that 3.7 million Kenyans enlisted themselves as new voters in the one month plus exercise. Nairobi County recorded the highest turnout, followed by Kiambu and Nakuru counties respectively.
The electoral body fell short of its projected four million new voters even after the High Court extended the voter listing exercise by five days.
Nairobi County recorded the highest turn out with 461,364, new voters registered followed by Kiambu, Nakuru, Meru and Mombasa.
Only ten out of the 47 counties managed to record over 50% and above of their set targets during the exercise.
Kajiado County surpassed its target of 33,282 voters and registered 79,733 new voters. Mandera followed with 43,322 voters, Narok at 63,650 and Kirinyaga at 60,142.
Recording dismal performance were Nyanza region which enlisted 449,740 new voters against the set target of 854,179.
Western region recorded 303,711 against 742,041, and Rift valley at 882,626 against 1,208,932.
Although the commission missed its target, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati says normal voter registration exercise will continue until the 7th of March.
The commission is also targeting to register 49,867 inmates during the ongoing exercise which will end on 27th of February, while the Diaspora registration target is 130,000.
The electoral body says by the end of the exercise after the cleanup of the voters, it projects to have 5.2 million new voters.
During the registration exercise at least 1 million Kenyans applied to transfer their vote.
The commission says that despite the challenges it has faced it is within the election calendar timeline and will deliver credible election.
The commission is now expected to prepare a draft register that will be subject to inspection and verification by the public from 10th of May.