All eligible voters who wish to vote on Oct 19 somewhere other than their permanent address must re-register using the new fingerprint forms.
Voter re-registration will close at 4:30pm today. Forms are available at all island council offices, Addu City Council departments, diplomatic missions and at www.elections.gov.mv. In Malé forms will be accepted at the Elections Commission’s registration center on Handhuvaree Hingun.
Check your registration status online, or by SMSing 1414 ‘VIS ID#’, or call the hotline on the same number.
Voting will begin at 7:30am on Saturday, October 19 and polls will be closed at 4:00pm, the Elections Commission (EC) announced at a press conference last night. Those in the queue at 4:00pm will be allowed to vote, said EC Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek.
Two ballot boxes will be placed in Sri Lanka and one each in India, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
The previous requirement for more than 100 voters to register for a ballot box to be kept overseas would not be enforced this time, Thowfeek said, adding that ballot boxes would be placed in resorts and industrial islands whether or not the registration exceeds 50 persons.
The re-registration deadline for persons voting outside their home islands is 4:30pm today, after the Supreme Court ordered the EC to restart the registration process in line with the court’s guidelines.
Thowfeek explained that while forms submitted on October 9-10 with fingerprints in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines would be valid, re-registration forms processed before the annulled September 7 presidential election as well as for the postponed second round scheduled for September 28 would be invalid.
Among the 16-point guidelines imposed on the EC by the Supreme Court judgment annulling the first round of the presidential polls was a requirement to include fingerprints of persons submitting re-registration forms as well as the fingerprints of two witnesses, if the form was submitted by a third party.
“Registration by forms submitted in September have been invalidated now. So until registered, a person’s name will be under his or her permanent address [on the voter registry]. Until a person registers elsewhere they have to vote in the place of the permanent address,” Thowfeek said.
“We do accept that this is a very short period we are offering to citizens. But as you know, because of the Supreme Court verdict we cannot provide a long period for any process. The verdict states that the first round of the presidential election must be held before the 20th of this month.”
In line with the Supreme Court guidelines, Thowfeek said voters would not be allowed to take phones, handbags or any other item into the polling station, advising voters to keep phones at home.
“The Elections Commission and relevant authorities should make it illegal for any person (including officials) who enters the polling station to carry phones, handbags, files or any item (excluding pens) that could be considered to infringe upon the rights of candidates and ensure that no such action takes place,” reads point 10 of the Supreme Court guidelines.
To abide by the guideline, EC member Ali Mohamed Manik revealed that media monitors would not be allowed to bring cameras or phones into the polling station.
“We sincerely apologise to you for this because in the past monitors took cameras and phones but we have to abide by the [Supreme Court] judgment,” he said.
The EC was given legal advice recommending that “any persons” stated in the guideline included media monitors as well, Manik said.
As elections officials would not be allowed to carry phones either, Manik said a communications official would be stationed outside each polling place.
In addition to a communications official, a second official would be added to supervise the handing out of tokens.
Asked if the EC could provide assurances that the voter registry would not include underaged citizens or the deceased, Thowfeek explained that in line with the Supreme Court judgment, the main source of the registry would be the database at the Department of National Registration (DNR).
“The department is tasked with maintaining [records] of births and deaths. So if they are maintaining the list correctly, I believe it shouldn’t include the names of any deceased,” he said.
In the past, Thowfeek said, the EC sought lists from the DNR and island councils, which were cross-checked to compile the voter registry.
The DNR has provided regular access to its database as well as identity card (ID) photos for the EC, Thowfeek said, adding that the ID card photos would be used along with the voter lists at polling stations.
Regarding the recent resignation of EC member Ibrahim ‘Ogaru’ Waheed, Thowfeek said Waheed informed the commission that he was advised to resign by doctors as it was “not advisable to work in a stressful environment” due to his health.