Court passes a directive that voters should stay 400m from polling stations

The High Court has dismissed a case challenging a directive that voters should stay out of a 400 meters radius from the polling station after voting. Justice Richard Mwongo ruled that there is a legal basis for the establishment of the 400 meters for persons not involved in the counting of election results.

The Judge directed that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should, however, give members of the public access to the counted and signed results either at the entrance of a polling station or at a place convenient to the public.

The court further directed that where there are residences or homesteads within the 400 meters, then police have no authority to evict the residents of the said areas.

“Police officers at a polling station have no authority to evict, remove or handle the inhabitants and residents thereof in any manner will keep them out or away from their residents,” ruled Mwongo.

In the case, activist Okiya Omtata wanted the order lifted saying it is illegal and unconstitutional. Omtata had argued that IEBC declaration is unconstitutional to the extent that evicting citizens from polling centres contrary to Article 86(a) of the constitution which required elections be transparent.

He argues that Kenyans have legitimate expectations that they will vote, wait for results and then go home. If the court does not interdict the violations, the rule of law will be undermined.

Omtata further said his home is a few metres from the polling station, adding that it is unreasonable to expect him and members of his family to stay outside the 400m radius.

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