16 parties, only 15 slots on EVMs
The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) says it is not a crisis that 16 political parties have registered for the November 28 general elections, while there are only 15 slots on the country’s electronic voting machines
ECN Director of Elections Professor Paul Isaak denied yesterday that the bungle was a crisis and told Namibian Sun that everything is under control.
However, Namibian Sun understands that urgent meetings were held last week to discuss the situation after 16 parties registered last Wednesday at the ECN head office in Windhoek for the general elections.
The meetings followed the realisation that the EVMs, which are to be used for the first time in general elections in Namibia later this month, do not have enough slots for all the participating parties.
Namibian Sun understands that the solution that the ECN apparently came up with will drastically reduce the number of available EVMs and may affect the number of polling stations for the National Assembly and presidential elections.
Isaak said the ECN is planning to use an extra EVM per polling booth, which would be used for the National Assembly vote.
However, this could severely affect the number of EVMs that the ECN currently has available for the elections, and thereby affecting the number of polling stations.
Isaak, however, denied this and said the number of EVMs and the polling stations will not be affected.
“There are sufficient ballot units,” he said
He told Namibian Sun that people will be educated on using the two EVMs before election day.
When asked whether the extra machines would not be used by voters to cast their ballots twice in the National Assembly elections, an irritated Isaak told Namibian Sun that he could not understand why anybody would want to do that.
“Why would people do that? There is no crisis. Everything is under control,” Isaak said.
Namibian Sun also understands to counter the decrease in available EVMs per voting station, moves may be afoot to increase mobile stations.
The latest controversy to hit the use of EVMs follows months of bickering by opposition parties that are unhappy about the lack of a paper trail to ensure transparency.
Over a million voters have registered to cast their ballots in the upcoming elections.
Some parties have called on the ECN to postpone the polls until the already legislated paper trail provision is complied with.
Other politicians said the ECN should rather concentrate its efforts on winning the trust of the electorate through voter education, while some believe demanding a paper trail at this stage is pointless.
Efforts to get a comment on what the possible impact of the lack of space on the EVMs for all registered political parties may be from ECN Director of Operations Theo Mujoro proved fruitless yesterday.
The ECN previously announced that the total number of EVMs for the 2014 elections are 6 800.
The commission said there would be 1 386 fixed polling stations and 2 586 mobile polling stations placed throughout the country. The ECN has already provided the various political parties with a provisional list of all the polling stations.
The 16 parties registered for the National Assembly elections are Swapo, the Rally for Democracy (RDP), the Monitor Action Group (MAG), the United Peoples Party (UPM), the Christian Democratic Voice (CDV), the All People’s Party (APP), the Congress of Democrats (CoD), the Democratic Party of Namibia (DPM), the DTA, the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), the Republican Party, Nudo, the National Democratic Party (DPM), the United Democratic Front (UDF), Swanu and the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP).
Ellanie Smit: Namibian Sun