The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has slammed a leaked police intelligence report circulating on social media alleging election impropriety as “baseless speculation”.
The report (Dhivehi) alleged “some opportunity for fraud” and “illegal voting”, claiming 18,486 irregularities on the voter registry including 588 dead people, 1865 individuals without national identity cards, 39 underage cases and 10,023 address mismatches.
Police have declined to comment on the authenticity of the report, but said such a report could not have been leaked from their offices. Attorney General Azima Shakoor has used the report’s findings in an ongoing Supreme Court case filed by third place candidate Gasim Ibrahim to annul September’s presidential polls.
MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy claimed the report’s arguments were “baseless allegations, lies manufactured by senior policemen who overthrew the country’s first democratically elected government.”
President Mohamed Nasheed resigned publicly in February 2012 after sections of the police and military mutinied, took over state media, vandalised MDP offices and beat MDP supporters. Nasheed is now the front-runner in September’s presidential polls with 45.45 percent of the vote. Run-off elections are set for September 28.
International and domestic observers have praised a free and fair election process in the Maldives, and have called for a the second round of polling to proceed as planned.
“Every election will have small irregularities. But none of those highlighted will affect the outcome,” Imthiyaz noted.
The report compared the voter’s registry published on May 30, changes in voter registry on June 29, to the Department of National Registration’s database.
“It is not possible to say with certainty whether people acted on [irregularities] noted, unless we are able to check the list of voters used at voting booths,” the report noted. However, it contends “opportunity exists” for repeated voting, the dead and underage voting and usage of fake identity cards.
The report also raises questions over the high voter turnout, the Elections Commission’s database security, usage of counterfeit ballot papers, and presence of foreign staff at the EC on voting day.
“The election of 2008 was one in which many people desired change and voted. However, polls during this election show a high percentage of undecided voters. Even in the 2008’s runoff election when people wanted change, the turn out was 86 percent. That 88 percent people voted this time can be questioned,” the report read.
Police intelligence had alerted the commission on attempts to hack into its server, but no action had been taken, the report alleges. But, the police are “not certain if compromising information was leaked” but believe the server contained sensitive information.
The report recommends publication of the list of those who had voted on September 7, an audit of the EC’s servers, random sampling of ballot papers to check authenticity, increase in security features on the ballot papers, block foreign staff’s access to the EC on voting day and a recount.
“Based on the above, we believe there are things that may affect results of the election, and therefore believe a recount of votes may assuage doubts and decrease incidence of violence,” the report said.
The EC had previously acknowledged attacks on its server, but refuted claims of security breach and dismissed fears raised by the Jumhooree Party (JP) and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM)’s fears that foreign IT workers would be given access to electoral databases.
Ongoing court case
Jumhooree Party (JP) candidate Gasim Ibrahim is seeking to annul the results of the first round in the Supreme Court, after narrowly missing the run off with 24.07 percent of the vote.
The PPM has sided with the JP in court, while Attorney General Azima Shukoor has intervened on behalf of the government and called for police to investigate the EC.
The EC has so far disputed allegations of electoral impropriety, noting that allegations raised so far even if factual would have no material effect on the outcome of the first round, and pointed to unanimous endorsement of the election’s credibility by local and international observers.