MEC yet to identify ballot paper printers for July 2 fresh presidential election

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it is currently identifying a printer for the ballot papers for the July 2 fresh presidential election and shall advise the electoral stakeholders on updates regarding this exercise. 

At a meeting with National Elections Consultative Forum (NECOF) held on Wednesday at Sunbird Nkopola in Mangochi, MEC chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah SC said all stakeholders will also be invited to monitor the process at their own cost.

Last year’s ballot paper

Ansah also said only candidates and political parties contesting the election will have the right to have their party representatives accredited and the rest will fall under the observer category.

To facilitate this process, Ansah added, MEC appeals to all parties and candidates to submit names of the polling centre party representatives to the MEC offices stationed at the DC offices throughout the country.

“For political parties that are in alliances, accreditation will be issued in the name of the party that has sponsored the candidate on the ballot paper and that will be the party coordinating the process. 

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“The Commission appeals for coordination within political parties that are in alliances. Every contesting political party or candidate shall be allowed a maximum of two party representatives per polling stream. 

“The Commission will be circulating the number of streams per polling centre but stakeholders should know that a polling stream is made of 1,000 voters or part thereof. The Commission will circulate the list showing the number of polling streams per centre once ready.”

She reiterated that any candidate will also be allowed up to four roving party representative per constituency and two roving party representatives per constituency at the district tally centre. 

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“That is in a district with three constituencies every party will be asked to place 6 monitors at the district tally who will be monitoring how the results are received by the Constituency Coordinators who will be assisting the Returning Officer (District Commissioner) in receiving and processing of results. 

“Stakeholders might wish to know that the Commission will not set up Constituency Tally Centres in the constituencies. All results will be taken to the designated halls at the district council where tallying will be done.

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“For the national tally centre every political party and independent presidential candidate shall be allowed a maximum of 10 monitors and all CSOs that will also place observers to be stationed at polling stations, they need to submit the names to the MEC district offices. 

“All roving observers that will be stationed within a constituency should also have their names submitted to the MEC district offices. All roving observers from outside the constituency should have their IDs processed by the MEC head office.

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On electoral complaints handling, Ansah said MEC has set up an elaborate system to handle the expeditiously and resolved in accordance with the provisions of the law. 

“The Commission will at the beginning of the determination of the national result deal will all matters that have been subject to complaints.

“It is expected that only those that complaints that will not have been resolved at the Polling Stations or at the District Tally Centre will be dealt with by the Commission at the commencement of the determination of the national results.

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“In accordance with section 113 of the parliamentary and presidential elections act, complaints alleging any irregularity at any stage if not satisfactorily resolved at a lower level of authority shall be examined and decided on by the Commission and where the irregularity is confirmed, the Commission shall take necessary action to correct the irregularity and the effects of the irregularity.

“Any person (i.e. registered voter or party representative) who, during the electoral process, witnesses an irregularity shall have the right to lodge a complaint to the Commission through the polling officials.”

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She went further to say all complaints will be lodged in the prescribed form and MEC is expecting complainants lodging complaints to provide the following information:

a) Name, Address and Telephone number(s) of the Complainant;

b) Place where the event occurred (if the event took place in a polling station, the number and the code need to be specified);

c) Date(s) and the Time of the event;

d) Name(s) address and Telephone Number(s) of other people involved; or who witnessed (who can give evidence)

e) The accusation and the description of the event;

f) Evidence of the allegation.

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“MEC strongly encourages that all complaints lodged should be in writing and that those who are not able to write should seek assistance to submit a written complaint.

“The Commission will make it clear to its polling officers that they cannot refuse a party representative from lodging a complaint. 

“In fact during polling it is an offence for a polling station officer to unjustifiably refuse to receive a complaint a response about proceedings at the polling station or to examine and seek to resolve such a complaint.

“MEC also wishes to advise that all complainants should indicate their full names in their complaints. However, if the person requests that his/her identity remains confidential, MEC will not reveal the identity without his or her consent.