The Elections Commission (EC) has revealed that approximately 31,000 new voters will be eligible to cast their vote in the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled to be held on September 7.
Speaking to Minivan News on Sunday, Vice President of Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz said that the number of eligible voters currently stands at 240,302 – 31,008 more than the number of eligible voters in the 2008 presidential elections (209,294).
“We are currently working on the voters list and it will be announced next month,” he said.
Fayaz said that the commission will in March also open registration for voters who are currently not residing on the island where they are initially registered to vote.
“This is a very large election. Usually, people are unable to register when the period given for registration is too short. That is why we decided to open registration in March,” he said.
According to President of Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeq, eligible voters include 123,565 male voters and 116,737 female voters, however this was subject to change, he said.
The commission will formally declare the start of campaign season in July. However, all major political parties including the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and government-aligned parties such as the Jumhoree Party (JP), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and current President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Ithiaad Party (GIP) have all begun their presidential campaign. The PPM is meanwhile scheduled to hold its primaries by the end of February.
Previously, the Elections Commission expressed concern over the lack of sufficient funding given to the Elections Commission and warned that if additional funds are not made available, it will be unable to hold a presidential election this year.
Speaking to Minivan News at the time, Thaufeeq said holding the nationwide elections would cost between MVR 55-60 million (US$3.57-3.89 million). However, he expressed concern that the commission’s current budget would be insufficient.
“With the current budget given to the Elections Commission, I am afraid we may not be able to hold the elections. The commission has raised concerns with the Finance Minister, the President’s Office and Parliament’s Public Finance Committee,” he said.
EC president added that Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad had told the commission to carry out its work with the current budget allocated, claiming that the government would “somehow find a way” to provide financial support to the commission.
Thaufeeq also said a budget shortfall may “slightly impact” the fairness of the elections, but said the commission would do everything it could to ensure the elections were free and fair.
Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad also said that the government would provide assistance to the commission in facilitating the elections.
“We will provide sufficient funds to hold elections. There is no question about it,” he said at the time.
In April 2012, the US government pledged to provide US$500,000 (Rf7.7 million) as assistance for an elections program intended to support Maldivian institutions in ensuring a free and fair presidential election.
Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Colombo, Valerie Fowler, said at the time that the funding would be made available from July 2012.
The US would lend any support, including technical assistance, to ensure the next presidential election in the Maldives is conducted “smoothly and observed the rule of law”, Fowler said.
“Through USAID we are in the process of starting an election program that will assist Maldivian institutions in ensuring a free and fair presidential election. We have allocated US$500,000 to start that process and anticipate that we can begin as soon as July 2012,” she noted at the time.