The Directorate of Voter Education, Partnerships and Communication conducted a workshop in Naivasha with an aim to craft specific messaging to reach the right audience at the right time as part of the sensitization effort to the public ahead of the 2022 General Elections.
Commissioner Prof. Abdi Guliye said electoral messaging is important.The clear indication of messaging working during elections is reflected in number of rejected/spoilt votes. Messaging has to evolve and must be dynamic with changing trends. Messages of 2017 may not hold in 2022. Map out the stakeholders and Special Interest Groups (SIG) with target audiences and each must have its own messages," said Prof. Guliye.
Ag.CS/CEO Marjan H. Marjan, said the workshop offers a chance to participants to reflect on past elections and learn from the mistakes and successes. This will help in review how best the Commission could have done it and the messaging should target the public with specific audiences on what they need to know.
"Look at the challenge of campaign financing, unless challenged in court, the Commission has the mandate to oversee and verify money spent in campaign and campaigning financing. It is a new thing and we will all learn from it. It is important to have messages on this talking on mandate of the Commission on campaign financing and what responsibility does the public and other stakeholders hold to make sure it is implemented in the campaign and how they can report those not implementing it. There is a lot to be done. Time not on our side," said Marjan.
IFES, who have sponsored the workshop, said it was important to support citizens' rights to participate in free and fair elections.
"This process started with Kenya Election Support Programme done during the AVEW. Voter education and messaging are crucial as they help the public to demystify what comes with elections," said Dorothy Atieno, the IFES Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist.
Isaack Okero Otieno, the Deputy Country Director and Senior Elections Advisor at IFES, said IEBC plays an important role overseeing the Electoral process and needs to be supported.
"The Returning Officers are the voice of the commission and what you project to the public is crucial to inform, manage and in the running of elections. Hope IFES will continue working together with IEBC," said Okero.
The workshop participants were reminded that key messages are meant for target audiences to hear and remember as the process to prepare for the next General elections gathers momentum.
Joyce Ekuam, the Ag. Director of DVEPC, underlined that the messages created will allow the Commission to control communications and enhance relationships with your different target audiences including first time voters, youth, People with Disability (PWD), the elderly, minorities, marginalized and all other voters. The workshop was sponsored by The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), which supports citizens' rights to participate in free and fair elections.
"Whenever we have shortage of funds, we approach our donors and IFES has been a good partner. We thank you. They have helped us mainstream special needs in our messaging. We have also entered a partnership agreement with Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) to help craft messages on disability and build our capacity to deal with disability in all our processes," said Ekuam.
The objectives of the workshop include:
- To develop voter education messages around all electoral activities, which include all categories of voters be it women, youth, diaspora, prisoners. It needs the participants to think on broad basis on who is to get the messages and what does the public need to know about aspects of our register.
- To look at the cross cutting issues in the Commission's messages. The workshop needs to speak into broadcasting issues like electoral security, which is a major issue in the electoral process. The Commission has assured the public that we have it under control, despite what happened in Nakuru, Juja and Matungu and Kabuchai by-elections.
- To look at the issues of peace around elections. How youth can participate to have peace, before, during and after elections. How the Commission can rope in boda bodas and IEBC's preparedness to conduct elections. Are we trained well?
Ekuam said the output from the workshop will serve as source documents to Commissioners as they talk to the media as part of sensitization of the public ahead of the 2022 General Elections.
"There is a lot of talk about intentional and Special Interest groups (SIGs) like the elderly, youth, women, and marginalized. We need to go low to their level and remove the obstacles, which they face that impedes them from voting," said Ekuam.
The selection of the participants was motivated by the need to tap into experience learnt from conduct of the by-elections and what the public wanted implemented to help make the 2022 General Elections be a smooth exercise.
"We need to hear the issues that the public delivered to you that we need to interact with and respond to the public demand. During this year's Annual Voter Education Week (AVEW) we also got a chance to interact with public and the Commission needs to incorporate their feedback," said Ekuam.
The workshop had participants from the Commission's transport sector, who represent IEBC at the grassroots as first gatekeepers promoting the Commission.
"As a Commission we need to articulate our issues in unified way with confidence by discussing issues and prosecute challenges that we get. The men here are chairmen of wedding committees, nyumba kumi, village meetings and are respected in the society," she added.
There was also representation from the KISE staff, who are important in crafting of messages targeting PWDs and guide the participants to develop messages in short format in different format and channels, videos, memes, texts, pictures and posters.