Complex election and “appallingly low” voter education could mean many invalid ballots

Local NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) has expressed “deep concern” at low levels of voter education and “backtracking of transparency standards” set by the Elections Commission after previous elections.

“Appallingly low levels of voter education combined with persistent media bias/propaganda, use of state resources by the ruling party, and backtracking of transparency and accessibility standards previously set by the interim Elections Commission in the presidential and parliamentary elections are issues of concern,” the NGO said.

TM is coordinating the national domestic observation of the local council elections, covering Male’, Hulhumale’, Villingili and 38 other islands across 14 atolls. Together with 20 partner NGOs, the observers will cover two-thirds of the country’s ballot boxes.

The TM team will also be scrutinising three main TV stations, four radio stations and three print media “for bias, objectivity and quality of reporting during the election.”

In a pre-election statement, the NGO commented that “an environment of mistrust between the election administration, the government, political parties, candidates and the media has contributed to a decline of trust in electoral systems.”

“Given the complexity of the election and the low level of voter education, Transparency Maldives anticipates a high percentage of invalid ballots. Transparency Maldives also believes that this will contribute to raising tensions as the margin for winning and losing will be low due to the small number of eligible voters spread over a high number of candidates.”

™ however commended the EC for “spearheading a meaningful, although a limited and delayed, voter education program in Male’ and the atolls.”

“Transparency Maldives also appreciates the readiness of the Elections Commission in preparing for the Election Day.”

A small team of international observers from the Commonwealth are also present in the Maldives, but are not formally monitoring the election.

“We don’t normally observe local council elections, but the Elections Commission asked us. We’re not formally monitoring the election – we won’t be doing press releases or making public announcements, but we will produce a report for the Commonwealth Secretary General and this will like by passed to the Elections Commission,” explained Alison Pearman, Policy Officer with the Political Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Besides Pearman, the Commonwealth team includes Commissioner Florence Kebbie (National Election Commission of Sierra Leone), Zenaida Moya-Flowers (Chairperson of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and Mayor, Belize City Council), Anuya Kuwar (Project Officer – Asia region, Commonwealth Local Government Forum).


3 thoughts on “Complex election and “appallingly low” voter education could mean many invalid ballots”

  1. The original version of the press statement can be found at

    The same press statement was covered by Transparency International and can be found at

  2. Just a few simple questions.

    Before we talk of educating voters, is there anyone who can tell me exactly how these Local Councils are going to fit into the Administrative Organization of the Government?

    What exactly are the functions and powers of these Councils?

    How clear is the mandate of these councils? Does the Government and Majlis see eye to eye on this?

    How will the "decisions" of the Local Councils be implemented in a way that they do not conflict with the National Development Plans and Decisions of the Government.

    Do we know that establishing Local Councils does not mean that we are adopting a Federal System but that the country will have only one Government?

    People at the top have to be clear on this before anybody can educate voters!

  3. Wonder Where and what Transparency Maldives were doing, we were hoping they would in the years make voting rights education instead of making simple statements every time there is a vote, ehhehe guess they think other wise


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