7 Key Electoral Offences on Voting you Need to Know

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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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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32 comments

  1. Agnes 18 July, 2017 at 07:16 Reply

    The opposition is urging their supporters to monitor the elections by staying in the polling stations during elections. Is this an election offence? I am also concerned on whether this may result in election violence as these voters have been trained on election monitoring and may escalate tension and rumors as they already have a mentality that the elections will be rigged. Anything perceive as not within the elections guidelines by the said voters. despite their lack of knowledge may be construed as plans to rig.

    • Peter 18 July, 2017 at 11:02 Reply

      The message to voters should be ‘Vote and go home’. There are credited and trained observers, who are best placed to conduct the monitoring.

  2. Gitu 20 July, 2017 at 14:14 Reply

    Interesting, I didn’t know a person who has not registered as a voter, though aged 18 and above and a Kenyan citizen, is termed as an ‘unqualified person’. I thought unqualified persons are either citizens below 18 and foreigners only.

  3. Phoebe 27 July, 2017 at 06:43 Reply

    Am wondering how electoral officials will tell if a person puts other objects in the ballot box. How does that work? because small small objects can be dropped in the ballot box without anybody noticing.

    • Florence Maina 27 July, 2017 at 09:01 Reply

      Phoebe, most of the ballot boxes will be clear to counter this issue plus there will be clerks monitoring voters as they put the ballot papers in ballot boxes.

  4. Liz 28 July, 2017 at 11:04 Reply

    I have one burning issue. What if I happen to pick an unmarked ballot paper on the floor and give it to someone else who has not yet voted? Will I be punished for that? Please help.

  5. Kevin 29 July, 2017 at 10:37 Reply

    Its a good thing to punish those that pretend not to be able to read or write and those who pretend to be disabled. Am wondering whether it is also an offense for women to come with other people’s babies so they can skip the queue and vote. It is usually unfair for people to use kids that way.

    • Florence Maina 29 July, 2017 at 17:22 Reply

      That has been an issue in the past Kevin and unfortunately, women have been getting away with it. However, this time around the babies will also be marked with indelible ink to curb the issue.

  6. Eric 29 July, 2017 at 12:07 Reply

    What! There are people who pretend to be disabled to vote, that just sounds awful! I think the law should be very hush on such people.

  7. Emily 29 July, 2017 at 15:36 Reply

    I am going to be voting for the first time this year. I participated in the party nominations and it looked so easy for people to go back and vote again and again. Is the process going to be different in the general elections? How will election officials prevent pple from voting two or three times?

    • Florence Maina 29 July, 2017 at 17:18 Reply

      That was a gap in the organization of party primaries by party officials. The general elections will be different and everyone will be marked with indelible ink to prevent them from voting more than once.

  8. Sharlyne Chepchirchir 30 July, 2017 at 09:18 Reply

    Oh! I thought one can just place a ballot paper in any ballot box. I once experienced this during the party primaries. People could place ballot papers in any of the ballot boxes. The Presiding officer explained that the papers would be sorted during tallying and those found in the wrong ballot boxes would be placed where they belong. Is this a norm or this will change during the general elections?

  9. Simon Lamuka 31 July, 2017 at 11:47 Reply

    Now! This worries me a lot. I recently lost my ID Card. Will I be allowed to vote since am a registered voter? I really don’t want to miss out in the exercise during the general election date.

    • Florence Maina 31 July, 2017 at 13:07 Reply

      You will need your ID for identification purposes, Simon. This is to ensure you are not impersonating anyone

  10. Derrick Mukuyuni 2 August, 2017 at 10:17 Reply

    How many I.E.B.C officials should I expect in the polling station? Someone once told me that the place is usually crowded. Maybe just to ask. Are they easy to be identified?

    • Florence Maina 2 August, 2017 at 11:34 Reply

      The IEBC officials will be wearing badges. some of them may also don IEBC reflector jackets or caps

  11. Obed 5 August, 2017 at 09:59 Reply

    From the clips, I have watched concerning the voting process, voting starts at 6am and ends at 5pm. Sasa najiuliza na wale watu wamebaki kwa laini after 5pm. Would they be denied to vote yet they are supposed to exercise their rights? Nisaidieni hapo.

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