The Maldives Elections Commission (EC) has said it remains confident it will have resolved all 2,279 complaints raised by the public over the recently published list of eligible voters, in line with today’s deadline (June 14).
EC President Fuad Thaufeeq told Minivan News that the commission’s work amending the voter registry had so far gone “better than expected”, with all submissions received from the public amended. However, he conceded that challenges still remained in notifying all the complainants about the changes made to the list, as required by regulations.
“The challenge we have experienced so far is delivering the message to all the people who made these complaints that the requested changes have been made,” he said. “It is proving a bit difficult, though our staff are working very hard, in some cases up until 10:00pm at night to get hold of them.”
Transparency Maldives has meanwhile said that it has received only one significant complaint at present regarding outdated voter registry information, adding that all other complaints raised were small and sporadic in scale. However, the NGO said it continued to advocate a simplification of the present law on making further changes to the voter registry.
Thaufeeq said the corrected voter registry will then be published on either June 15 or June 16 in the government gazette and on the EC’s own website.
“What happens next?”
According to Transparency Maldives, anyone who has registered complaints with the EC regarding data on the voter registry will have five days to file a complaint with the High Court should they wish to appeal any decision made by the commission.
Under law, the High Court is then required to rule on any such appeal within 15 days.
Upon publication by the EC of the amended voter registry, any Maldives national over 18 will then be given a further 10 days to lodge any complaints concerning changes made to the list, the NGO added.
Transparency Maldives said the final process would be voter re-registration, where members of the public will be required to confirm or change their present permanent residence either in the country or abroad to confirm where they wish to vote.
The NGO emphasised that this stage will be critically important, as a person from an outer atoll presently living in Male’ will be required to return to their home island unless they re-register their new location with the EC.
A date for voter re-registration to begin has yet to be decided by the EC.
Transparency Maldives Project Director Aiman Rasheed said the NGO had so far received only one significant compliant about the registry, which was made by members of Fuvahmulah council concerning the amount of outdated details of islanders on the list.
“The last time we spoke to the EC we raised this issue and they had a rational explanation for what had occurred. It seemed that people who moved house on the island or left for Male’ had not been updated,” he said.
Aiman said the EC had dealt with the issues where possible, with other corrections expected to be made during the re-registration process that will be announced at a later date.
“Apart from this, there have been no major complaints beyond some small, sporadic issues,” he added.
Aiman said that with an estimated 25 percent of the population living away from their registered address in the Maldives, re-registraton was expected to be a much larger issue towards ensuring the vote to everyone in the country eligible to do so.
He argued that the NGO still believed the voter registration could be simplified by requesting the public to check their permanent address at the same time as other details on the registry.
“The argument against this has been from the section of the population employed as fishermen, as they do not know where they will be later on in the year. It was therefore easier for them to wait nearer to the election,” Aiman said. “There is a challenge there, but we still feel [voter registration] should be simplified. This is of course not the EC’s fault though, this relates to the law.”