#National Affairs
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya

IEBC to set up 3 polling stations for Kenyans in US
Ref. Sunday Nation, November 11, 2012

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya, IEBC, has announced a decision that it will be establishing only three voting centers to serve Diaspora Kenyans living in USA, namely New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles. These are Kenya’s three diplomatic posts.

This decision directly undermines and contradicts the constitutional provision that provides for overseas voting for Kenyans living outside the country. The decision is not informed by considerations about the demographic composition of eligible Kenyan voters living in USA. Nor does this decision reflect the spatial distribution of this population. Quite obviously, the IEBC’s and the government’s administrative convenience is the most important consideration driving this position.

As a forum representing the views and concerns of Diaspora Kenyans, the Kenya Diaspora Development Forum of Minnesota takes the position that this decision by the IEBC amounts to retracting the spirit of Kenya’s new constitution allowing overseas voting for Diaspora Kenyans. In effect, the IEBC is taking a step that will amount to voter suppression and will disenfranchise thousands of Kenyans living in parts of the US that are a significant distance from the diplomatic stations selected as voting centers.

It is our well considered position that Kenyans living in the Diaspora must petition the IEBC to reverse this position and ensure that all Kenyans are guaranteed equal access to exercise their democratic right as eligible voters.

The population of Kenyans in the USA is fairly evenly distributed between the three major regions: the eastern (Atlantic coast), the mid-West, and the western (Pacific) coast. The decision to allocate voting centers in only three cities is, evidently, lopsided and unfair. It denies Kenyans their right to vote and creates skewed voter access.

Based on these considerations, the Kenya Diaspora Development Forum of Minnesota takes this opportunity to urge the IEBC to take immediate steps to establish polling centers equitably for Kenyans living in USA. This means increasing the number of polling stations to include the mid-Western region of USA, an expansive region stretching from the state of Texas in the south to the states of Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota, among others. The practical logistical and cost implications of requiring Kenyans living in these states to travel for registration as voters and, later, to vote are unacceptably prohibitive.

We urge all Diaspora Kenyans to sign this petition as a testimony to their firm belief in equitable voter access and to petition the IEBC to alter course and provide voting centers equitably for all Kenyans. Signing this petition will send a strong message to the government to reconsider this aberrant position taken by the IEBC.

We, the undersigned Diaspora Kenyans who, being eligible voters, will be denied our democratic right to vote in Kenya's March 2013 elections through the deliberate limiting of voter access to 3 polling centers in USA by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya, call on the said commission and concerned authorities in Kenya to guarantee equitable access to polling centers for all Kenyans in the Diaspora by establishing accessible polling stations in the major cities where Kenyans live in USA and elsewhere around the world.

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The Do Not Disenfranchise Diaspora Kenyans petition to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya was written by Kenya Diaspora Development Forum of Minnesota USA and is in the category National Affairs at GoPetition.