A candidate for one of the positions of commissioner at IEBC wants a percentage of ballot papers to be in braille to cater for visually impaired voters.
Simeon Pkiyach told the selection panel recruiting four members of the electoral body that visually impaired Kenyans should be able to cast their vote without assistance.
“If I am appointed commissioner, I will push for the introduction of braille in ballot papers. The people assisting visually impaired voters may not be trustworthy. They may have taken an oath but how sure are we that they will do what is expected of them,” he stated.
Pkiyach, who was physically impaired after a road accident in 2004, further told the panel that polling stations should be made friendly to people with mobility challenges.
“Persons living with disabilities or people who are differently-abled as I prefer to call them, should not be faced with too much difficulty moving around at the polling stations,” he added.
Pkiyach, an agricultural extension officer who has served as a presiding officer in previous polls, further told the panel pastoralist communities should be able to vote even when they are on the move.
“A policy needs to be put in place to ensure pastoralist communities vote even as they search for pasture. We need to integrate pastoralist communities in the voting regime because elections are secondary to their lifestyle,” he explained.
Pkiyach said a system needs to be put in place to allow “mobile voting” since pastoralist communities may move to other electoral regions when elections are just about to be held.
“If they are registered in Starehe for example, and then they move to Westlands, we should be able to move the voter register and the gadgets to where they are. We must give them an opportunity to elect leaders in areas where they registered. It requires a lot of policy shift but it is possible,” he stated.
He added that there have been many instances when voter turnout in arid areas has been very minimal because of droughts.
“Those who are around vote but the turnout is very low because elections are held when some of them have moved,” he explained.
Kenya is a largely arid and semi-arid country with an estimated 80 per cent of the country’s land mass is classified as Arid and Semi-Arid Land.
Pastoralists communities occupy most of the land mass and represent about 30 per cent of the population, according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.