As the August 9 polls draw closer, official data shows that the number of youths registered as voters dropped after the 2017 general election.
The number of youths registered under the age of 35 years stands at 39.84 percent which is a decline of 5.27 per cent in 2022. This is despite the total number of voters rising by more than 12 per cent.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission blamed the low figures on economic hardships and rampant corruption among elected leaders.
Figures from the IEBC shows that 22.1 million Kenyans are registered as voters ahead of the polls, compared to five years ago when the number stood at 19.6 million.
Further, youths below the age of 35 years account for three-quarters of Kenya's population.
Appearing on Citizen TV on Saturday, July 9, IEBC Youth Coordinating Committee Chairperson Joel Mwita, highlighted factors that hold back the young population from participating in the electoral process.
“There are several concerns affecting the appetite of youths in the election. There is the issue of the Identification Number, and again they are not happy with how leaders have performed previously, Civic and voter education done through the education cycle. These are factors that need to be considered," Mwita stated.
The poll official argued that the biggest concern is lack of Identification Cards, which every voter must present on the voting day.
The ministry of Interior has been fast-tracking issuance of IDs but thousands of youths still do not have the crucial document.
In addition, young people are not happy with how elected leaders have performed previously. Many feel cheated because of the unmet pledges made by the outgoing regime.
For instance, while seeking office, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, promised to built stadiums, create jobs, and provide laptops to school going children, all of which remain pipe dreams.
Another concern is that many of the youths have not received adequate civic education to help them appreciate why they should vote. Millions are disillusioned. They do not feel like their vote counts, and would therefore stay away from voting.
According to Henriette Geiger, the Ambassador of the European Union to Kenya, they have come up with creative ideas in a bid to influence youths. A case in point, they organized music concerts during the voter registration window to push youths to enlist as voters.
“The European Union is Working a lot on youth engagement, not only in Kenya but across the globe and also in Europe” Henriette Geiger stated.
Despite a drop in the number of youths registered as voters, the 38.94 percent of registered voters will play a crucial role in determining the next president of Kenya even as the two top contenders Raila Odinga and DP William Ruto bank on youths vote to win the Presidency on 9 August.