Per the New Kenyan Constitution
Section 82(1): Parliament shall enact legislation to provide for—(e): the progressive registration of citizens residing outside Kenya, and the progressive realization of their right to vote.
Kenya’s newly elected Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission board recently visited Kenya Diasporans in the USA. In the various cities they visited, the Chief Electoral Officer ( CEO ) James Oswago, repeatedly pointed out that the purpose of their trip was to pick Diaspora minds on how to move forward with the voting process for the Diaspora since the new constitution gave Kenyan citizens outside the country the right to vote. The ironic thing is that he would then be followed on the podium by chairman Isaack Hassan, who would sing a totally different song and instead of trying to pick Diaspora minds, would go right into declaring what they felt was the best way for Diaspora Kenyans to vote.
He ruled out online voting and several other methods and seemed firmly set on stating that they would recommend Diaspora Kenyans travel to vote at the Embassy and consulates in Los Angeles and New York. He also mentioned that the Embassy officials would act as voting agents. He also said diasporans would only be able to vote for the presidential race and not any other races. If implemented, this process will hinder free and fair elections by Kenyans in the Diaspora for several reasons, two main ones are mentioned below:
*In the USA, the average cost of travelling to any of the said cities, along with accommodation will be upwards of USD $500. This process will have to be done twice: For voter registration and for voting. This in essence prevents any Kenyan citizen without approximately $1000 USD to spare from voting, which means the election is NOT free. Outside the USA, there are several other large countries with large Kenyan populations that will face the same dilemma e.g. Canada, India, Australia, e.t.c.
*Ambassadors to the Kenyan Embassy and missions are political appointees. Having them serve as voting agents would be a conflict of interest and this does not promise a FAIR election process
Per the constitution:
Section 82 (2): Legislation required by clause (1) (d) shall ensure that voting
at every election is—
(b) transparent; and
(c) takes into account the special needs of—
(i) persons with disabilities; and
(ii) other persons or groups with special needs.
All the above would be violated if they proposed a measure to require Kenyans to fly to the 3 states to register and vote.
When these concerns were brought up, the IEBC board then resorted to using different tools of manipulation by playing with the word “Progressive” which is used in the constitution clause. In essence, the word progressive was now being used as a weapon, as he said that the term progressive gave them the power to rule out any process they felt could not be implemented within the time frame they have.
What this means is that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission can wake up tomorrow and give the minimal effort to enable diasporans to vote, and say that it will be a progressive progress, as long as at least a small bunch can vote in 2012. Their words seem to hint at them planning to do just that, hence the ridiculous suggestions that hundreds of thousands of Kenyans converge on a tiny embassy or consulate on a single day to cast a vote in an election overlooked by a political appointee.
We REJECT this attempt at manipulation of the constitution to deny us our right to freely and wilfully vote.
We demand that the Kenyan Government explore all options available to ensure the most convenient voting process is set up, preferably online voting. If online voting cannot be implemented and we have to resort to specified Diaspora polling stations, there should be a process in place to ensure that polling stations are conveniently spread out in accessible locales where Kenyan citizens living abroad can travel to vote without incurring any expenses. For the USA, some of these cities (which have large populations) include:
Kansas City, MO
Other diaspora cities across the world TBD
The Kenya govt can swear in voting officers from the hundreds of thousands of diaspora abroad if need be. Do not deny us our right to vote
ENDORSING GROUPS & ENTITIES:
-Kenya Diaspora Vote- Facebook group
-aKtive: Kenyan American Advocacy Group
-Kenyans 4 Change
-Kenya Diaspora Alliance