In Kenya, youth are defined in the constitution as persons between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. This demographic is a vital part of Kenyan society, making up roughly 78.3 percent of Kenya’s population. This segment of the population also falls predominantly in Living Standard Metrics (LSM) 2-8, which means that they are low on the socio-economic scale and thus often marginalized. The good news is that the youth population in Kenya have registered to vote at record numbers ahead of the 2017 election. Today, 46 percent of registered voters in Kenya are 18-29 years old. Now that youth have come out to register in Kenya, however, they also need to come out to vote on Election Day to make their voices heard.
In this context, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is supporting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in deploying a dynamic youth outreach strategy as part of the “Kenya Electoral Assistance Program” (KEAP), targeting youth voters ahead of the 2017 general Elections. A centerpiece of this campaign is the “Youth Vote” (YVote) digital media and face-to-face outreach initiative. The objective of YVote is to educate, engage and motivate young people prior to the August 8 election, so that this cohort can actively and peacefully participate in the electoral process.
An IEBC commissioner officially launching the YVote campaign.
The campaign focuses on educating youth voters and spreading get-out-the-vote messaging in coordination with the IEBC to bring young people to take active roles in governance, increase the number of young people who turn out on Election Day, improve accessibility of voter information so that youth can make informed choices, and reduce the demographic’s apprehension about being first-time voters. Peace messaging is also infused throughout the campaign’s digital ads and on the ground activation activities.
This outreach strategy “YVote” aims to:
- Increase youth turnout in the general election,
- Increase confidence in the IEBC, and
- Enhance peaceful participation in the electoral process.
This campaign includes nationwide interactive face-to-face and door-to-door activation, interactive voter education games, and comprehensive digital engagement. The IEBC has launched their on-the-ground YVote youth outreach campaign in 24 counties. This face-to-face outreach takes place in markets and residential areas, which allows for more interaction with youth in the LSM 2-8 socio-economic bracket that the campaign is targeting.
To date, the face-to-face campaign has reached over 100,000 people and the digital campaign has reached over 1.1 million people. Key messages of the campaign include calls to make your voice heard through the ballot, make a plan for Election day, vote together in numbers, share a rallying call to vote, and peacefully participate. These key messages are encompassed in this example of a YVote motivational video:
The youth messaging was developed with diverse, structured feedback from Kenyan youth. This campaign is truly by youth, for youth.