Deceased people in voter database result of difficulties obtaining information: Department of National Registration

The Maldives’ Department of National Registration (DNR) has said there is a possibility names of deceased people could be included in the electoral register as it “faces difficulties in obtaining information” to maintain a more current database.

Following the Supreme Court’s annulment of the first round of presidential elections, the EC had been given less than 12 days to prepare for the repeat poll – scheduled to take place this Saturday (October 19).

The commission has said it normally requires 45-60 days of preparation to hold a presidential election in accordance with the Maldives’ constitution and general elections law.

The Supreme Court’s verdict delineated 16 guidelines the EC must follow in holding a new round of polling before October 20, including using the DNR’s database as the “main source to determine eligible voters”.

Today the DNR admitted it had “faced difficulties in obtaining information on people who have passed away abroad”.

“We have removed the names of deceased people from our database whose information hasbeen shared. But we cannot remove a person from the database if we can’t officially confirm their deaths,” DNR Director Fareeda Yoosuf told Haveeru.

For the annulled first round as well as past elections, the EC compiled its voter registry by collecting current data from island council and city council offices, which was cross checked with the DNR database, and then updated after the commission publicly published the list and provided voters with an opportunity to amend any incorrect information.

“It has been very hard work over the last five years to come up with a voter registry of this standard,” Elections Commission Chairperson Fuwad Thowfeek explained to Minivan News in a previous interview.

Meanwhile, the EC emphasised today that it has not made any changes to the information obtained from the DNR database when compiling the voter register for the presidential election scheduled for Saturday, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s order.

The commission will forward all complaints regarding the voter registry to the DNR, local media reported.

Complaints submitted thus far have primarily focused on the delayed re-registration process, according to local media. Other recurring issues are due to individuals being registered to vote under incorrect addresses or in the wrong location altogether.

The commission accepted complaints submissions until 6pm today. Additionally, as of this afternoon, the EC had processed over 52,000 – of the estimated 65,000 – re-registration forms for individuals voting outside of their permanent residences.

The entire re-registration process, including the complaints procedure, was delayed after supporters of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) “threatened officials, incited discord, and obstructed EC officials’ ability to work” at the voter registration department.

The commission notified the government that the Maldives Police Service (MPS) failed to remove the protesters from the registration section’s premises for five hours “despite repeated efforts and requests for police assistance”.

A midnight ruling from the Supreme Court on October 10 ordered the commission to disregard re-registration efforts for the annulled presidential elections, and restart the entire process with fingerprinted forms for all voters who wish to vote in a location other than their permanent address.