Voter Urges Court to Include "None of The Above" on the Ballot

  • A ballot paper displayed in a Nakuru court by a judicial official during a vote scrutiny in 2013
    A ballot paper displayed in a Nakuru court by a judicial official during a vote scrutiny in 2013
    Daily Nation
  • A petition has been filed at the Nakuru High Court seeking to compel the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to include another option on the ballot.

    In court documents, the petitioner, Boniface Mwai, wants the electoral agency to include "None of The Above" as an option on the ballot papers to give voters a wider choice.

    Mwai argues that adding the "None of The Above" option box will present 360-degree options for voters.

    The petitioner further stated that the prospect will allow voters who do not have faith in the aspirants present to exercise their democratic right by registering that none of the contestants was worth their votes.

    Kenyan electoral ballots
    Ballot boxes that were used during the Msambweni by-elections on December 14, 2020.

    “That option (None of The Above) allows voters who do not have confidence in the listed candidates to exercise their democratic right by indicating that none of the aspirants has won them over,” Mwai stated in his court papers.

    The "None of The Above" (NOTA) is an option on a ballot that allows voters to not vote for any running candidates.

    Although it is similar to a spoilt vote, None of The Above is a specific ballot option, whereas a spoilt vote typically entails defacing the ballot.

    Voters tend to choose NOTA to express their dissatisfaction with the options available. Disappointed voters are given a reasonable means of having their voice heard.

    If NOTA receives a significant proportion of the votes – or more extreme yet, wins outright – elected leaders are forced to take note and possibly understand the general feelings of the electorate.

    NOTA options can take different forms. The main objective of the ‘NOTA’ option is to enable electors who do not wish to vote for any of the candidates to exercise their right to reject without violation of the secrecy of their decision.

    Political analysts opine that the voter must be eligible to register a vote of rejection if they feel that the contesting candidates do not deserve to be voted for and the right to vote granted to all citizens must allow the vote of disapproval.

    The petition, however, comes at a time the IEBC has already commenced the procurement of electoral materials.

    IEBC Chairperson, Wafula Chebukati, has been quoted as saying that any further delay in procuring the key strategic election materials including the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (Kiems) and the ballot paper printing, could force the commission to opt for direct procurement.

    The Public Procurement Administration and Review Board (PPARB) in September 2021, annulled the international tender for the supply, delivery and maintenance of the Kiems kits for the 2022 polls.

    The board later stopped the award of ballot paper printing tender to Greek firm, Inform-Lykos, until a petition filed by a losing bidder, Africa Infrastructure Development Company, is heard and determined.

    An image of a ballot box
    IEBC officials open a ballot box after the Law Society of Kenya election exercise at Nyeri law court station on February 18, 2012.
    Daily Nation