The Chairperson of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Justice Jane Ansah has said the electoral body is putting in place measures and systems that will ensure the holding of credible elections in 2019.
Ansah made the remarks during the signing of memorandum of understanding between MEC and National Registration Bureau (NRB) in Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe.
In her remarks, Ansah said the collaboration of MEC and NRB will standardize the elections because it is aimed at implementation of the operational aspects of voters’ registration and their identification on the polling day.
The MEC boss said past elections in the country faced challenges and the electoral body has learnt lessons from such experiences.
“The voters’ register has on many occasions posed challenges to MEC especially incidences of missing names, transposed pictures, misspelled names and other incorrect details,” Ansah said.
She disclosed that the errors were emanating from the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) System which was being used and which is prone to human error but the commission has replaced the system with a modern one to avoid such errors.
“All electoral stakeholders have also come out in full support that MEC should migrate from OMR system to a biometric voter registration system. It has been concluded that a biometric voter registration system will eliminate incidences of multiple registration as well,” Ansah said.
“We are grateful that UNDP hired a consultant, Africore, to conduct a feasibility study on the implementation of the biometric voter registration system. The consultant recommended that MEC should work in collaboration with NRB in coming up with a reliable National Population Register from which the MEC would then extract its voters’ register. This leads to the achievement of One person-One identity and One vote.”
Ansah further said that the coming of the National Identity Cards will provide the basis of an individual to prove identity and eligibility for voter registration and polling.
“The discussions over the past two years have strengthened the partnership between MEC and NRB and are rooted on the understanding that MEC will draw upon the Identity Card to develop a voter register without inclusion and exclusion errors as it will ensure that voter’s identity is based on a unique national ID ensuring that there will be no duplication and multiple entries,” Ansah said.
MEC hopes the agreement with NRB will help it save on time and money that would have been required to conduct registration of voters on its own.
Among other dignitaries present during the signing of memorandum included UN Resident Representative Mia Seppo and Chief Director for National Registration Bureau, Mr Tresphore Kang’ombe.