When Ahmed Naseem, 48, attempted to verify his information on the voter registry for the new presidential elections scheduled for November 9, he found he had been taken off the list.
The Supreme Court in its verdict annulling the first round of presidential election held on September 7 had deemed him dead and had counted his vote as fraudulent.
“I am saddened and quite fed up. I have been deprived of my right to vote,” Naseem told Minivan News. “Now I have to go to court to regain my identity.”
The Supreme Court annulled the September 7 vote, citing widespread electoral fraud despite unanimous international and domestic praise of a free and fair electoral process.
The apex court claims 5623 ineligible votes were cast – a number that could have altered the narrow margin between the second and third placed candidates.
These votes include votes allegedly cast by 18 dead people, 7 minors, 225 people without authentic identity cards, 773 people with discrepancies in their national identification numbers, 2830 people with discrepancies in their addresses, 952 people with discrepancies in their names, 7 people who did not exist, and 819 people whose national identification numbers were written down wrong by election officials at the time of voting.
Naseem said the Elections Commission had told him he will not be allowed to vote unless he obtains a court document confirming that he is in fact still alive.
“Now, I will not be able to use my identity card for anything,” he said.
Naseem’s wife, Mariyam Zubair, has written to the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz today informing the apex court that her husband is alive.
“The Supreme Court’s verdict no 2013/SC-C/42 has deemed me to be a widow by law,” the letter shared on Twitter said. “I request you to annul [the Supreme Court] decision that my husband is dead and remove my widowhood.”
Back from the dead
Speaking to Maldives Broadcasting Corporation’s Raajje Miadhu (Maldives Today) program, EC President Fuwad Thowfeek said the commission had discovered that at least four of the eighteen people deemed to be dead in the Supreme Court verdict were in fact alive.
In addition to Naseem, the EC had found that Mohamed Ahmed of Addu Atoll Maradhoo Island, Fathmath Didi of Addu Atoll Hithadhoo Island and Khadeeja Gasim of Laamu Atoll Fonadhoo Island were alive.
“Like this, many people who are alive and had voted have been deemed by the Supreme court as votes cast by dead people, and based on that, they have annulled the election,” Fuwad said.
The EC and the Human Rights Commission have criticized the evidence used by the Supreme Court to annul the vote.
In an interview on October 19, Fuwad suggested the Supreme Court was disenfranchising individuals by invalidating votes of those who had address or name mismatches between their identity cards and the voter registry.
“For example, a person called Mohamed Waheed Hassan, may have his name on ID card as Mohamed Waheed. When we gave him the right to vote, they counted it as a fraudulent vote. But the ID card number, address, date of birth and photo is the same … We know it is the same person, the date of birth is exact, the ID card number is the same, photo shows it is the right person,” said Fuwad.
“When we give these people the right to vote, [the Supreme Court] has said that is giving the right to vote to a person who doesn’t have the right to vote,” Fuwad said.
The HRCM, in a leaked report, conducted an analysis of the Supreme Court’s evidence, finding only 1033 of the 5623 votes could be considered irregular.
The commission said the EC may have given 952 individuals with differences in the spelling of their names the right to vote to ensure an eligible voter is not disenfranchised, especially in cases where all other information and picture on the identification documents match.
Further, the commission notes that the 2830 cases of address mismatch should only be counted as evidence if any individual has used the discrepancy to violate another person’s right to vote.
“We do not believe address mismatches can influence the result of this election as this is not constituency specific,” the report said.
Dissenting judges in the Supreme Court verdict said it is the High Court, not the Supreme Court who has jurisdiction over the case. Further, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Abdulla Areef only noted 473 cases of possible fraud.
A new presidential election has been set for November 9. The Supreme Court ordered the EC to discard its voter registry and compile a new one based on the Department of National Registration’s database.