The electoral commission on Thursday launched an online portal for mapping and profiling potential voters in the diaspora ahead of the 2017 General Election.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is targeting to map over three million Kenyans across the world, from whom it expects to net over a million potential voters.
IEBC officials said mapping would help them decide where and how to register potential voters.
Deputy chairperson Lilian Mahiri-Zaja, who launched the programme, said all eligible Kenyans are entitled to vote, and that the commission would progressively ensure that happens.
“Some of the challenges we may face in regard to this are not insurmountable. There are deficiencies in data collection,” she said at the Nairobi Safari Club.
Although some Kenyans in the diaspora are sceptical of releasing personal data to state agencies and the IEBC, she assured them that the commission would keep such records confidential.
“This is not a registration portal but only a mapping tool for data collection,” she said.
She said registration of Kenyan voters abroad is an expensive exercise that could cost up to four times what it costs to register a local voter.
The registration has been further complicated by a court ruling that demanded that the IEBC ensure Kenyans living abroad vote at all levels, including electing county assembly representatives, Ms Mahiri-Zaja said.
IEBC Commissioner Abdulahi Sharawe said the agency was working on a plan to ensure all local and diaspora voters are in the principle register.
In the last elections, he said, only 2,637 Kenyans registered as voters in an exercise that covered the entire East Africa.
“The diaspora voter register that we have now is not complete and we are struggling to put together a more complete voters roll,” he said.
Kenyans filling the form that is now available online are required to give their name, gender, passport number, date of birth, passport expiry date, their country, city and state of residence.
Wavinya Ndeti, the chairperson of the Political Parties Liaison Committee, said priority should be given to cities with bigger Kenyan populations across the world.
“We should look at cities that already have so many Kenyans even as we go into registering Kenyans living in the other parts of the world, ”she said.