Politicians are in the rush minute push to amend the law to allow them use nicknames on the ballot as the 2022 polls draw closer.
In a Bill re-introduced in the Senate, Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina wants the Election Act amended to allow the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to include a candidate’s popular name on the ballot.
“The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Elections Act, No.24 of 2011 to allow a candidate to be presented to the electorate on party primary or election ballot papers in the way in which the candidate has chosen to familiarize himself to the electorate,” the bill reads.
The Senate republished the Election (Amendment) Bill, 2021, after it was pulled down in 2019 to allow for concurrence between the Speaker of the Senate Ken Lusaka and National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi.
The changes could take effect in the next polls If the law is passed and assented by President Uhuru Kenyatta in good time.
Popular politicians in the country often identify themselves with nicknames such as Baba (Raila Odinga), MaDVD (Musalia Mudavadi), Hustler (William Ruto) among others.
Senator Maina argues that names that appear on the ballot paper have an effect on the outcome of the election as some voters only know some candidates with their nicknames and get confused on the polling day.
“The ultimate goal of an election is to ensure that the electorate chooses their preferred leaders in a free and fair environment. Name recognition thus becomes an important aspect of a free and fair election and should be enabled to the fullest extent,” the senator argues.
“…This bill, therefore, seeks to provide for the inclusion of a candidate’s popular name on a ballot paper while safeguarding the sanctity of the electoral process.”
If the changes are adopted candidates will be required to submit nicknames to IEBC for approval before use on ballot papers.
The current law only allows candidates to use names that appear on their identification cards.
Due to the rigidity of the current electoral law, a number of politicians have been forced to add their nicknames to their official names through lengthy legal processes to advance political interests.
Some of the Kenyans who have adopted their nicknames as official names in the past, for political reasons, include former governors Mike Mbuvi Sonko (Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu).
Sonko was previously known as Gideon Kioko Mbuvi while Waititu added BabaYao Moniker to his official name.