7 Key Electoral Offences on Voting you Need to Know
With the general elections drawing closer by the day, it is important that every voter be aware of the electoral offences during the elections. The Election Offences Act in Kenya provides outlines the conduct expected on voters during elections. It outlines various offences relating to registration as voters, campaigning and even the voting procedure that are punishable by law. This article discusses election offences relating to voting where any person who commits them would be liable to a fine not exceeding Ksh 2 million or imprisonment for not more than 6 years. Here are 7 key voting-related offences you need to be aware of:
- Forging or destroying ballot papers
A ballot refers to a piece of paper that voters use to record their choice with respect to the person that they chose to vote for. Forging or creating a counterfeit of this paper is considered an electoral offence. Further, destroying this paper in terms of defacing by either drawing or writing on the surface of the paper and any other form of alteration on the official perforation, stamp or mark is not allowed.
2. Issuance ballot papers without authority
Only personnel authorized by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission are allowed to give ballot papers to voters on the election day. These authorized persons could include clerks and presiding officers situated at the polling station. Other persons who are not authorized to issue ballot papers are liable for prosecution in the event that they do so.
- Sale or purchase of ballot papers
The law prohibits the sale or purchase of ballot papers. Giving out a ballot paper in exchange for money or offering the same is an electoral offence. Further, purchasing or offering to purchase a ballot paper from anyone could also land you in trouble and earn you a jail term.
- Putting Items other than ballot papers in ballot boxes
During voting, voters are expected to put ballot papers in a ballot box after marking them. A ballot box is a container that is temporarily sealed and used to hold votes cast in an election. The process of putting a marked ballot paper in a ballot box is know as casting a vote. According to the law, it is an offence to put any other item in a ballot box other than a ballot paper.
- Multiple voting
Multiple voting happens when one person casts their vote in a polling station more than once. Multiple voting leads to inflation of number of votes casts in a polling station and interferes with the principle of fairness in an election. It is an electoral offence for any voter to cast their vote more than once in the same election, whether general, by-election, nomination or referendum.
- Voting by unqualified persons
While voting is a right that should be enjoyed by Kenyan citizens, there are limits to the enjoyment of this right. The law requires that any person who votes in an election of any kind be qualified to do so. Persons that are unqualified to vote in an election include those who have not attained the age of 18, persons who are not citizens of Kenya, those who are citizens and above the age of 18 but have no Kenyan identification documents (identification card or valid passport) and people who are not registered as voters.
- Pretending to be an assisted voter or disabled person
Claiming to be unable to read and/or write so as to be assisted to vote or in order to vote in a manner provided for people who can not read or write is considered an electoral offence. Similarly, pretending to be visually impaired or disabled in order to attract preferential treatment accorded to persons with disability in an election is an offence punishable by law.