The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has cautioned its polling equipment operators to quickly master the technological innovations that MEC has adopted for the Tripartite Elections to avoid becoming a weak link in an otherwise solid electoral results management system in the heat of the pressure of the elections on the day of voting.
Commissioner Bishop Mary Nkosi said this in a speech that she delivered at Katoto Secondary School in Mzuzu on Friday.
“Do not fall in the trap of believing that if you don’t get it now, you will learn later. I urge you to master the equipment at this training. During polling there will be pressure on you and if you miss something here, you may find yourself in a very precarious situation on the polling day, even failing to send the results to the tally centre,” Nkosi said.
The MEC Commissioner also charged the electoral equipment operators to exercise professionalism and courtesy in a bid to provide a seamless voting experience for the electorate on the Historical Day when Malawi’s 6.8 million registered voters will choose the country’s next President, Members of Parliament and councillors.
Some politicians are spreading fears of election-rigging in the highly digitized Tripartite Elections. Some digital innovations in this year’s Elections include; electronic transmission of election results to the National Tally Center over secure Internet links of known local telephone operators.
In a bid to allay the fears of possible rigging emanating from the migration from an entirely paper-based and messy election management system to a more digitized system, MEC has already engaged political party techies and its own staff in rigorous trainings.
One of MEC’s ICT Officers Derick Tembo recently explained more on the process innovations that will be utilized at constituency polling centres on Polling Day.
According to Tembo, the polling centres will be equipped with a digitized back-up of the voter’s roll and the USSD Code *2019# will be dialled to display information to direct voters to the correct polling stream at polling centres with more than one polling stream. Only 800 registered voters are designated to vote at each poling stream.
Meanwhile, the electoral equipment which will be fitted with a customized election management system will be utilized to capture election data which will be sent by authenticated ICT officers to the National Tally Centre over a secured link on various phone operators after verification from the external auditor.
According to MEC, the external auditor who will operate in full view of political party monitors will be enabled to login into the results management system to verify the results form processes in the system which will be transmitted to the National Tally Centre upon the auditor’s satisfaction with the results.
The Commission has also pledged to display all election results at the polling centres before sending them to the Constituency tally centres.