Electoral changes deceitful

22 August 2014 Author  

front namoloh 22 augThe Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) disregarded a recommendation by the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) on the use of a paper trail when making use of electronic voting machines (EVMs). The decision to disregard the commission’s recommendation is contrary to a provision in the Electoral Bill that Government tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The Bill clearly stipulates that the use of voting machines is subject to the simultaneous utilisation of a verifiable paper trail for every vote cast and verified.

Chapter Three Section 97 sub section 3 and 4 of the Electoral Bill states that in the event that the results of the voting machines and those of the paper trail do not tally, the country will accept the paper trail results as the election outcome.

The Chairperson of the LRDC Sacky Shanghala this week said that the provisions regarding the use of voting machines in the Bill are subject to an implementation date, which Minister of Regional Local Government and Housing Charles Namoloh has to decide on.

It therefore appears as though Government incorporated the clause that explains the terms of the use of the EVMs into the Bill to ease the minds of the opposition, but that it would most likely remove it from the Bill before parliament has passed it into law.

Head of the ECN legal department Advocate Heidi Jacobs on Thursday disclosed that the ECN would not make use of a verifiable paper trail in this year’s election because the manufacturer had not built such a feature into the voting machines.

“That part should not be in the final Electoral Bill that was tabled in parliament, and the one I have does not incorporate that.

“However, I believe Mr. Shanghala told us the provision, but subject to implementation,” Jacobs said.

She maintained that the machines are trustworthy even without the paper trail because in the event that a voter presses the wrong button when selecting their candidate or party, they can cancel the instruction.

Shanghala said these are the exact concerns he had when he cautioned ECN regarding the introduction of the EMVs for these elections.

“As I previously explained my research led me to a recent judgment of the Indian Supreme Court, of October 8, 2013, authored by the Chief Justice of the Republic of India, in the matter of Dr. Subramanian Swamy // Election Commission of India [Civil Appeal No. 9093 of 2013.

“Where the Supreme Court makes a pronouncement on the verifiable paper trail which I have been commenting upon,” He said.

“From the materials placed by both sides, we are satisfied that the “paper trail” is an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections.

“We can only achieve the confidence of the voters in the EVMs with the introduction of the ‘paper trail’.

“EVMs with verifiable voter paper trail (VVPAT) system ensure the accuracy of the voting system.

“With the intention to have fullest transparency in the system and to restore the confidence of the voters, it is necessary to set up EVMs with VVPAT system because vote is an act of expression which has immense importance in a democratic system,” the case report said.

Some of the other notable changes to the Electoral Law are the provision for holding a referenda, the establishment of Electoral Tribunals and the Electoral Court.

The Bill further contains amendments to pre and post election applications, meaning that in the case of pre-election challenges there are some matters that people can only raise prior to the polling day.

Another feature of the Electoral Bill is the Occurrence Book that election officials would position at every registration point, polling station and coalition centre, and record all complaints or events a person is dissatisfied with.

The country will now conduct voting in one day and the Bill has addressed the matter regarding the proof of residency through a provision that allows a person to swear an oath before a registration officer.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WINDHOEK OBSERVER

The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

Contact Us

Windhoek Observer House
c/o John Meinert & Rossini Street
Windhoek West
Namibia
Tel: +264 61 411 800
Fax: +264 61 226 098
www.observer.com.na