AN INVESTIGATION ON THE CAUSES OF LOW TURNOUT IN KENYAN ELECTION.
1.1 Background of the study
The loss in electoral turnout and political engagement, which are fundamental components of a democratic society, has been seen in several western countries (Beth, 2017). Civic Education refers to the systematic impartation of information and skills to individuals, enabling them to effectively engage in the processes of voter registration and participation in elections. According to Dan (2017), the significance of Civic Education in election processes should not be underestimated. According to Dan (2017), the political behaviour and voter participation in a general election are significantly influenced by the integrity of the electoral system in a particular nation. The method in which elections are performed and administered significantly influences the degree of political culture, civic education, good governance, and political involvement within a nation. In the present-day global context, the practise of engaging ordinary people in the process of decision-making is becoming more prevalent. This is seen in the fact that governments are now required to include public participation in every political action or decision undertaken. Given the historical transition of several nations from communal to capitalist structures, it became imperative to establish mechanisms for political oversight. This was achieved by implementing a system whereby decisions on governmental or national affairs required the approval of individuals via the process of voting. The European Nation has had a significant increase in data and voter registration, although there has been a notable decrease in voting participation. This trend has generated political repercussions inside the European parliament. A significant number of lawmakers hold the view that the voting database may be a contributing factor to the low voter participation. However, there are other elements that exert effect on voter participation within the context of European democracy, and one such aspect is the level of civic education among the voters. A significant portion of the voters is preoccupied with their own pursuits, displaying a lack of concern towards politics and its influence on societal dynamics. In the African context, a prevailing trend is seen wherein voter participation tends to be low. This phenomenon may be attributed to several factors, including the rising expenses associated with visiting voting places and the logistical challenge of participating in numerous elections concurrently, which often consumes a significant amount of time. Based on the research conducted by Drew (2018), it has been observed that when presidential elections are scheduled on a different day than elections at the legislative and county levels, there is an increase in voter participation. This implies that the simultaneous scheduling of numerous elections, as often seen in many African countries, is not advisable. In the African context, it has been observed that when incumbents seek re-election, there is a notable rise in voter participation. This may be attributed to the incumbents' efforts to lower the informational barriers for voters, enabling them to make more informed decisions. Consequently, voters are able to hold their political leaders accountable by evaluating their past commitments and performance in terms of political growth (Drew, 2018).
In several developing nations, there is a prevalent phenomenon of voter apathy and negative perceptions towards politicians and the election process, resulting in a significant portion of the population abstaining from voting due to their belief that the act has no substantial significance for them (Mercy, 2019). Civic education campaigns should include more than only instructing voters on the logistical aspects of voting, such as polling locations, voting times, and the significance of elections. These programmes should also emphasise the need of adequately preparing voters for elections by providing guidance on factors such as appropriate arrival and closing times at polling stations. The government has the task of enhancing the ability of its people, therefore facilitating their full engagement in matters of governance. Capacity development encompasses several domains, such as election procedures, the understanding of rights and obligations pertaining to participation in government, and the potential outcomes associated with engaging or abstaining from governance activities. It is essential for individuals to recognise their entitlement to receive an explanation in the event that their ability to engage in participation is restricted. Therefore, the researcher sought to investigate the causes of low turnout in Kenyan election.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Despite the implementation of several awareness initiatives aimed at emphasising the significance of electoral participation, a considerable decline in voter turnout during the General Election has persisted. This trend was particularly evident in 2017, when a significant number of constituencies and counties in Kenya had low levels of voter engagement. However, the apparent factor contributing to low voter turnout might be attributed to the practise of vote-buying, which has a significant influence on the participation of voters. If voters face expenses associated with participating in elections, as proposed by the rational choice calculus of voting model (Mercy, 2019), then it may be argued that, within the framework of secret and voluntary voting, they would be better off taking a bribe or gift and abstaining from voting on election day. By drawing upon existing research on turnout and clientelism, it is posited that the act of vote-buying might potentially impact an individual's inclination to vote via two distinct mechanisms: a monitoring and punishment mechanism, as well as a credibility signalling strategy (Mercy, 2019). The study therefore investigated the causes of low turnout in Kenyan election.
1.3 Objective of the study
The broad objective of the study is to investigate the causes of low turnout in Kenyan election. The specific objectives is as follows
i. Find out the factors responsible for low turnout during elections in Kenya.
ii. Examine the effects of low voter turnout on the electoral outcome of elections in Kenya.
iii. Recommend strategies that can encourage high voter turnout during elections in Kenya.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions have been prepared for the study
i. What are the factors responsible for low turnout during elections in Kenya?
ii. What is the effects of low voter turnout on the electoral outcome of elections in Kenya?
iii. What are the strategies that can encourage high voter turnout during elections in Kenya?
1.5 Significance of the study
The legislature may consider using the results from this research in order to modify and establish a legislative framework that will govern and oversee the implementation of civic education. This research would contribute to the comprehension of the election process, facilitating the ability to cast votes that have significance and are cast in substantial quantities. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) might potentially use the insights derived from this research to actively include civic rights organisations in formulating an optimal strategy for implementing civic education initiatives. The Civic Education Rights organisation intends to use the results of this research in order to develop effective tactics that will facilitate the expansion of their outreach efforts in spreading civic education to a broader audience. This work will assist other researchers by providing them with fundamental information necessary for doing future research.
1.6 Scope of the study
The study focuses on the causes of low turnout in Kenyan election. Hence, the study will find out the factors responsible for low turnout during elections in Kenya, examine the effects of low voter turnout on the electoral outcome of elections in Kenya and recommend strategies that can encourage high voter turnout during elections in Kenya.
1.7 Limitation of the study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.
1.8 Definition of terms
Voter turnout: voter turnout is the participation rate (often defined as those who cast a ballot) of a given election