The Elections Commission (EC) has publicized its work plan for the first round of the presidential election scheduled for November 9.
A window to submit complaints on voter registry information was opened up yesterday (Tuesday, Oct 22). The EC will address complaints today and open up the re-registration process tomorrow and Friday (October 24, 25) for newly eligible voters and voters who will be voting in a location other than their home island.
Voters who re-registered for the cancelled October 19 polls and do not wish to change registration status will not have to submit forms.
Forms are available at the Elections Commission Secretariat, Island Council offices and online.
The EC has said it will continue to follow all elections laws and the guidelines delineated by the Supreme Court for the cancelled vote on October 19.
After re-registration is completed, the EC will receive rejected re-registration forms on Saturday (October 26). On the same day, the names of elections day officials will be sent to candidates for vetting as outlined in the SC guidelines.
The EC will be seeking Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) help in addition to police support in dispatching ballot boxes and papers to polling stations. An MOU will be signed between the two organizations on October 27.
Elections observers and monitors will be issued permits on October 29.
On November 1 and 2, a draft of the final voter list will be publicized and the EC will continue to receive any complaints regarding the voter lists.
On November 3, re-registration forms will be sent 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 finalized, 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.
This is the EC’s fourth attempt to hold presidential polls. A first round of presidential elections was held on September 7 – no candidate gained 50 percent of the vote, and a second round was scheduled for September 28.
However, third placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim of the Jumhooree Party sought to annul the September 7 results, alleging widespread fraud, despite unanimous praise – international and domestic – of a free and fair election process.
With a verdict pending on the eve of scheduled second round, the EC decided to proceed with polls on September 28, but the Supreme Court in a midnight ruling ordered the EC to delay polls and security forces to halt elections preparations.
On October 7, the Supreme Court annulled the first round and ordered a re-vote by October 20.
The apex court also delineated 16 controversial guidelines on conducting polls which the EC have criticized as restrictions and an infringement on the EC’s independence as the guidelines involve state institutions and presidential candidates in electoral process.
Guidelines include compilation of a new voter registry based on the DNR database, re-registration with new fingerprinted forms. The security forces are required to oversee transport of ballot boxes and papers to polling stations, and candidates are required to vet elections officials at polling stations as well as to sign the voter registry.
Two of the three presidential candidates – the JP and the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) – refused to sign the voter registry on the eve of October 19 elections, after which the police refused to dispatch ballot boxes and papers.
Finally, just one hour before polls were to open, the police forcibly stopped elections officials from leaving EC HQ with any election related document.
After several discussions with the executive and presidential candidates, the EC announced new polls for November 9, and a second round on November 16 if necessary.