Tuesday, April 23, 2024

There is no magic in the low voter turnout; How I wish I was Aristotle to explain it better!

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, a giant of a man who stands tall in the history of civil rights movement in America, ‘our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’

Indeed, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has decried the low voter turnout that has marred the second and final phase of mass voter registration ahead of August 9, polls.

During this second segment of Enhanced Continuous Voter Registration (ECVR) exercise which began on January 17, and expected to close on February 6, IEBC targets 4.5 million new voters apparently left out in the erstwhile exercise conducted between October 4, and November 5, last year.

However, current state of affairs depicts a worrying trend tantamount to a blot on the escutcheon of the electoral body and a dire need for an intensive audit. 

The programme, expected to kick off in all the 1, 450 County Assembly Wards (CAWs), has, so far, recorded meagre registration rates as poor turnout characterizes the exercise in several parts of Kenya.

According to Commission Chair Wafula Chebukati, the exercise was to extend to diaspora populace in United Kingdom, Canada, United States, South Sudan, Qatar, UAE and Germany.

It was John Lewis, an American civil rights activist who said that the vote is the most powerful non- violent tool we have in a democratic society. Sadly, many appear to have abdicated this civil responsibility by failing to turnout and register.

Even IEBCs clarion call your vote your future, which they have displayed ad nauseum, appears like the proverbial platitude unable to stir souls and minds of an already dejected would-be voters.

Speculation has given rise to a number of arguments in favour of low turnout. One such argument is that young people are increasingly becoming apathetic towards voting.

If valid, has sufficient civic education been done to propitiate their voting spirits? It would be remiss of us if we failed to acknowledge it is time we cut the Gordian knot and worked on acatalectic formula that will yield results.

Permit me to employ a bit of Hebrew gerezah shavah (argument by analogy) here. A story is told of a man who bought a piece of land rumoured to have gold. For a month of Sundays, Daniel laboured with dexterity and only had a massive pile of soil to show for his effort. He therefore decided to sell this land to Simon, the first to offer him some money.

In Simon’s mind, he was armed with dynamic intestinal fortitude and vision, and knew, without a doubt, that the land was rich in gold.

With profound exactitude, he studied the lock, stock and barrel of what Daniel had done and drew a quick conclusion that the latter was headed in the wrong direction. Simon made a few adjustments and struck gold few moments after digging just three feet!

Could we have operated on a fixed mindset that voters will always turnout to register? You see, as Dr Wale Akinyemi puts it, ‘we are not victims of the things that happen to us but victims of our decisions in the midst of the circumstances.’

Today’s voter has metamorphosed into a being not easy to understand. In order to win, we must employ tact, use an amalgam of skill and persuasion while at the same time buttress the importance of this exercise. Persistence, as it said, is the one trait that separates winners from losers.

Like expectant Christians who, with optimism and overwhelming hope, gaze at the heavenly scene with its diverse and fantastic celestial beings so must we see the beauty that electoral process begins at this point.

Were I Aristotle, I would have employed enthymeme to drive this sacred truth home. If the cap fits, wear it.

The writer is a communications specialist

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