The Elections Commission (EC) has said no changes will be made to the voter registry for this month’s presidential election, following a Supreme Court order issued yesterday (September 2) demanding all institutions ensure free and fair polls.
Despite some political parties standing in the election having raised several concerns over about the EC’s ability to oversee free and fair polls, the commission today stressed that its registry and schedule for Saturday’s voting was going forward as planned with international and local monitors poised to monitor proceedings.
The Supreme Court yesterday ordered all relevant authorities ensure a free and fair presidential election on Saturday (September 7), with the EC remaining duty bound to address any possible errors regarding details on the voter registry.
The order was made in response to a case filed by a senior Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) member Ahmed Zaneen Adam questioning the EC’s capabilities to oversee a free vote.
Zaneen was today quoted in Sun Online as claiming that an additional 10,000 eligible voters would now be able added to the final electoral register without having to re-register with the EC as a result of the Supreme Court order.
PPM Mp Ahmed Nihan and vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed were not responding to requests for information at time of press.
EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News that in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling, the commission was committed to following electoral regulations but stressed that no amendments would be made to the final registry.
Thowfeek added that he had no knowledge of the additional 10,000 people wishing to vote in the upcoming poll, as referred to by Zaneen in local media.
“We have not been asked to make any changes to the [voter registry] and I believe the 10,000 people he mentioned are [Zaneen’s] own opinion. The voter list has now been finalised,” he said. “The Supreme Court has asked us to follow the laws on holding an election and this is what we are doing.”
Thowfeek added that the election was moving ahead as scheduled with ballot boxes and other necessary equipment including emergency lights, ink and paper all being taken to polling booths across the country in preparation for voting.
Alongside to the voter registry, the EC said it would also be working to keep pens provided at polling booth’s “safe” after the PPM and Jumhoree Party (JP) expressed concern this week over the possible use of ‘disappearing-ink pens’ to adversely alter the outcome of the election.
Thowfeek reiterated that while the EC would be providing voters with standard ballpoint pens at polling booths, voters concerned over the use of invisible ink could bring their own stationery to vote.
“Actually, it was a PPM member who showed one of these [invisible ink] pens to the media. This is the only one we have seen,” he said.
Thowfeek added that although pens inside poll booths will be monitored in order to try and prevent any tampering, he added that the public were requested not to accept any pens from people outside the polling booths.
“We have said that it may be best for voters to bring their own pen,” he added.
Thowfeek said that with hundreds of international and local observers overseeing Saturday’s vote representing NGOs, political parties and other institutions, the EC would be requesting that only one representative per group be allowed into the polling area at a time.
He stressed that all observers would be forbidden from touching ballot boxes or papers.
However, Thowfeek said that registered observers would be able to request that election officials address any concerns about vote counting once polls had closed on Saturday.
“They can for instance request to slow down the count if it is being done too quickly,” he said.