MEC not worried by poor turnout for voter verification

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The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it is not concerned by the poor turnout of registrants for voter verification exercise because many people are using the SMS verification system.

MEC Chairperson Justice Dr. Jane Ansah made the remarks Tuesday after touring a number of centres aimed at monitoring the progress of the exercise in Karonga where the last phase is taking place.

MEC went digital by sealing a deal with TNM and Airtel that allows eligible voters to verify their names by dialing *2019# and entering details of either a voter’s certificate or a national identity card (ID).

Speaking to the media after the tour, Ansah said on average the physical verification has not been impressive but not bad as many voters were able to do it at the click of the button in the comfort of their homes   through cellphones.

“We are glad that the ongoing verification exercise is progressing well both on mobile phones and physical verification at respective registration centres with no serious cases. It is our wish to implement all the electoral activities so that at the end of the day we conduct free, fair and credible elections,” Ansah said.

Asked whether people will be able to vote twice owing to the fact that some centres in Karonga registered multiple registrants, Ansah said the current voting system does not accommodate multiple voting as the machines are designed in such a way that they reject people who try to vote twice.

“Let me assure all concerned people about multiple voting. Nobody will be able to vote more than once because the machines will recognize them at one centre and reject them at the other centre. Neither will voters vote by using someone’s voter certificate so the issue of the 750 voter certificates from Lilongwe that were found in Mangochi have no impact whatsoever on the May 21 elections because the voters register is still intact,” Ansah said.

However, a visit to a number of centres showed that the low turn up is due to poor sensitization campaign on the part of stakeholders that were accredited to civic educate voters.

Karonga district civic education officer Christobel Munthali on the other hand said her office did all it could to go around with loudhailers in the district.

“When it comes to civic education my office went about the length and breadth of Karonga making noise days before the exercise began,” Munthali said.

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