Elections Commission decides to verify all re-registration forms

The Elections Commission (EC) has decided to verify fingerprints on all re-registration forms submitted by citizens wishing to vote outside their home island after the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) disputed the accuracy of the re-registration process.

EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek told newspaper Haveeru this morning that 41,000 forms were sent to the Department of National Registration last night (November 5) and more would be sent once they were processed. The DNR forwards the forms to the police for fingerprint verification.

More than 71,000 people re-registered to vote elsewhere in the presidential election scheduled for Saturday, November 9.

While the PPM and JP threatened not to sign the lists yesterday, the candidates from both parties agreed to approve the registry following a meeting with President Dr Mohamed Waheed this morning.

The JP had asked the commission last night to verify all 71,000 voter re-registration forms, while the PPM asked for the verification of 6,000 forms in which the party had identified issues.

The Supreme Court, in its verdict annulling the September 7 vote, asked the EC to obtain fingerprints of all voters who wished to register to vote in a location other than their permanent address.

The JP claimed yesterday that they had received information from the DNR that the department had not been able to verify 12,000 fingerprints because the prints were unclear. An additional 3,000 forms had fingerprints that did not belong to the voter, JP alleged.

Thowfeek however told Minivan News yesterday that the DNR had noted problems with only 294 forms.

“But the DNR has not said even these forms are fraudulent. They told us the mismatch might be because the quality of database of fingerprints in their database is low. It may also be possible that the voter had given prints of two different fingers to the DNR and on the reregistration form,” he said.

The EC had called all 294 voters, and all voters have testified to the accuracy of the forms, Fuwad noted. There have been no complaints on reregistered location, he added.

“So I do not understand why the PPM wants us to verify another 6,000 forms. Two of the forms they have asked us to verify are that of two senior EC staff. And these staff have said they have no problems with their forms. So why should the PPM ask for verification? Even if they could point out a problem with 100 forms, they have grounds to complain. But there are no complaints,” Fuwad said.


Elections Commission announces Saturday 5pm deadline for submitting re-registration complaints

The Elections Commission (EC) has announced a deadline of 5:00pm on Saturday (November 2) to submit complaints regarding re-registration for the first round of the presidential election on November 9 as well as a possible second round scheduled for November 16.

Voter details can be checked in the Maldives by sending an SMS to 1414 in the format ‘VIS [ID#]’, or by calling the helpline on the same number. Registration details can also be checked online at http://elections.gov.mv/index2715.html

The EC noted in its announcement that all re-registration forms submitted by citizens wishing to vote in a location other than their home island have now been processed.

In addition, complaints submitted ahead of the canceled election scheduled for October 19 have also been attended to, the EC said.

The commission also announced that Elections Complaints Bureaus have been set up in Addu City and islands with atoll council offices.

With the exception of Fuvahmulah and Shaviyani atoll, the bureaus have been established at the atoll council offices. The bureau in Shaviyani atoll is located at the first floor of the Atolhuvehi building in Funadhoo while the office in Fuvuhmulah was set up at the atoll house.

The bureau will be open until November 16 from 8:00am to 3:00pm except on Fridays. On Fridays, the bureaus will be open from 2:30pm to 5:00pm.

The complaints form is available from the EC website and the National Complaints Bureau counter on the second floor of the PA complex building as well as the bureaus in atoll and city council offices, atoll election units, and election focal points set up in island council offices.

Phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses of the complaints bureaus can be found at the EC website.

According to the timeline for the rescheduled election, re-registration forms will be sent on November 3 to the Department of National Registration (DNR) for verification of fingerprints – a key demand by two of the three presidential candidates.

The voter registry will be finalised, printed and sent to presidential candidates on November 4. Candidates will be asked to sign the voter lists on November 5 and 6.

Ballot boxes are to be dispatched on November 8, the election will be held on November 9 and the preliminary results will be announced on the same day.

The official results will be announced on November 12, one day after the current presidential term ends.

Re-registration form verification

The DNR revealed last week that 11 out of the 500 voter re-registration forms sent to the police so far for verification have been rejected to date.

At press conferences on Thursday (October 31), the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) said that they have identified several problems with the re-registration forms, after the EC allowed the parties to review the forms last week.

Abdulla Ameen, campaign agent of PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen, told the press that a five-member team from the party reviewed the information on 11,000 forms submitted before October 19 and discovered issues on 20 percent of them.

Among the problems the PPM discovered, Ameen said, included address mismatches, expired ID card numbers, smudged fingerprints, missing signatures, missing phone numbers and incomplete information of witnesses.

The forms should have been rejected by the EC, Ameen argued.

The PPM has therefore asked the EC to verify 6,000 forms either through fingerprint verification or by contacting the re-registered voter, Ameen said.

The verification was necessary to ensure that voters were not re-registered in a different location without their knowledge, he added.

JP candidate Gasim Ibrahim meanwhile told reporters that the party’s team also identified similar problems after checking about 15,000 forms.

Gasim reportedly said that he would not allow the election to be held in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines laid down in the apex court’s judgment annulling the September 7 election.

The re-scheduled election on October 19 was cancelled after the JP and PPM candidates refused to approve the voter registry as required by the Supreme Court guidelines and police obstructed the EC an hour before polls were due to open.

In an interview on the state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM), EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek described the Supreme Court guidelines as “locks” and “restrictions” while expressing frustration with candidates having “veto power” to prevent the election from taking place.


2.2 percent voter registration forms sent to police have been rejected: DNR

Department of National Registration (DNR) Director Fareeda Yoosuf has stated that 11 out of the 500 voter re-registration forms sent to the police for verification have been rejected to date.

Meanwhile, police have announced they are able to verify fingerprints 25 times faster than they had previously stated.

“The DNR is just acting as an intermediary between the Elections Commission [EC]and the police. Once we receive forms from the EC, we forward it to the police who will carry out the verification process. Once we hear back from them, we deliver their results to the EC,” Fareeda explained.

“So far we have received 350 re-registration forms from the EC on Tuesday, and 150 forms on Wednesday. Having sent them to police promptly, we have heard from them that 11 of the forms have been rejected. We haven’t reviewed the report, nor asked for specifics, therefore we can’t say whether these forms have been rejected due to issues with the fingerprint, or some other issue,” she stated.

“As this is a matter related to the election, it is the EC that will decide on how to proceed with the matter. We have sent them the forms and the police report. It is their responsibility to follow it up and decide what to do about it,” Fareeda said.

Meanwhile, the police released a statement on Tuesday stating that they had completed the fingerprint verification process of 350 forms sent in by the DNR. The statement does not mention finding any irregularities in the forms.

Minivan News was unable to contact police media officials or the EC secretary general at the time of press.

Fingerprint verification

Although the Supreme Court ruling issued on September 13 orders the EC to verify fingerprints on re-registration forms through the DNR, Fareeda stated that the department does not possess the capacity or the resources to conduct the process.

The DNR therefore sends the forms they receive from the EC on to the police, who carry out the verification process.

While police routinely fingerprint those arrested and the DNR fingerprints those issued new ID cards, no institution in the Maldives has the capacity to verify fingerprints on the scale of a national presidential election.

The police initially said on October 14 that with the capacity they have, it would take them five minutes to verify a single fingerprint. As each re-registration form has fingerprints of four different people – the voter, the bearer who submits the form and two witnesses – each form would then take 20 minutes for verification.

However, on October 23 – 9 days after the initial statement – police announced that they have “increased capacity” to the level where they can verify five fingerprints in one minute, which amounts to 75 form verifications in an hour.

A statement on the police website quotes Assistant Commissioner of Police Hussain Adam as stating that the institution has increased capacity by deciding that, in addition to the automated verification system, police will also manually verify fingerprints.

He explained that manual verification meant that “fingerprint experts” will judge the legitimacy of a fingerprint by looking at it with the naked eye.

“There are certain things in every person’s fingerprint that need to be counted. This can be done by experts just by looking at it with the naked eye. We have decided to use this approach. It can be done,” he stated.

The Jumhooree coalition has maintained that they need at least five percent of the re-registration forms to have the fingerprints verified, while the Progressive Party of Maldives continues to demand that ten percent be verified.