Additional 100 ballot boxes to be placed during 2013 Presidential Elections: Elections Commission

The Elections Commission has said it will place an additional 100 ballot boxes for the 2013 elections, compared to the number used during the 2008 presidential elections.

President of the Elections Commission Fuwad Thaufeeq told local media outlet Sun Online that the commission expects a total of 556 ballot boxes to be placed throughout the country.

He said the reason for the increment on the number of ballot boxes was due to the fact that the numbers of resorts and other industrial islands had increased during the last five years.

According Thaufeeq, during the last elections the elections commission placed 60 ballot boxes in resorts but that the number was expected to rise. The commission’s current estimates suggest that it will require 100 ballot boxes in the next election.

“The number of resorts has increased. As far as I remember the number stood at 60. Our current estimates suggest we would need at least 100 ballot boxes for resorts this time. However, this may not even be the exact figure as it is unclear if there will be more resorts opened in the next seven months,” he said.

However, he said that the commission also intends to place ballot boxes in five countries in which large number of Maldivians reside. In the 2008 elections, the commission placed ballot boxes in five countries including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and the UK.

The Elections Commission previously revealed that approximately 31,000 new voters will be eligible to cast their vote in the upcoming presidential elections.

Vice President of Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz told Minivan News earlier 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).

According to the Elections Commission eligible voters include 123,565 male voters and 116,737 female voters; however this was subject to change.

The commission is also set to open registration this March, 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,” Fayaz said at the time.

Funding concerns

The Elections Commission has previously 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.

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.

However, Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad has stated that the government was committed to holding free and fair elections regardless of the budget constraints.

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad also said that the government would provide financial assistance to the commission in facilitating the elections.

“We will provide sufficient funds to hold elections. There is no question about it,” he told Minivan News earlier.

Maldives presidential election is scheduled to take place on September7 and the Elections Commission is expected to 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 March.

President of Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeq and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz were not available for comment at time of press.