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It is your right not to vote

Lately we have been having leaders expressing a lot of concern about the low rates of people registering to vote in the forthcoming general elections with IEBC estimating that at the end of the exercise we might only have 12 million voters instead of their earlier projection of 18 million registered voters.

I watched in dismay a story that appeared on Citizen TV about people being forced to register as voters before they are allowed to go through their daily activities. As much as I highly doubt the credibility of that story from Dunga Beach in Kisumu, I want to clearly state without any fear of contradiction that “NOT VOTING IS YOUR RIGHT” just as much as voting is.

There is no law in this land that says every citizen must register to vote…there is actually a law that says you cannot be discriminated against (like we saw in Dunga) based on the status of your voter registration. That was so wrong and legal action can be taken against those engaged in the forceful registrations.

Moving forward, I am a registered voter in Kisumu Central Constituency and I know why I registered to vote: I am voting because I believe that there is a candidate out there who will effect the kind of change that I am looking forward to, who has the same hopes and aspirations for this country as I have.

What about that person who hasn’t seen these same reason to vote has I have, is he/she stupid like they are called on TV and social media? The last time I checked that was more than three quarters of this country, because even if we have 18 million registering to vote, how many will actually turn up and vote? Not more than 8 million!! So that means Kenya is a stupid nation? I don’t believe so.

So instead of calling them names or forcing them to engage in an exercise they don’t believe in, why not try to find out the cause of their disinterest in this electoral process. Their reasons are just as varied and as valid as our reasons for being part of this process.

As Kenyans we must learn to tolerate divergent opinions, just because we believe in something it does not necessarily mean we should force it down other people’s throats. This is what led us to violence and has natured ethnicity in our society. If someone not registering to vote is stupid, what do you call someone voting for a different candidate from your favourite one?

I have never been afraid to hold unpopular opinions on several issues, after all its common knowledge to my readers that my favourite presidential candidate is not who a majority of my tribesmen support and here again I am taking another unpopular position but at the end of the day, we will never have that united Kenya we want unless we begin to accommodate divergent opinion. 

If you have valid reasons for not registering to vote, do not allow yourself to be forced to vote…it is your democratic right not to vote!



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