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Namibia: ECN to Use New Machines in All Elections
Source: The Namibian
Source Date: Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Country: Namibia
Created: Jun 04, 2014

The Electoral Commission of Namibia says it has decided to make full use of the electronic voting machines for all elections taking place this year.

The Director of the Elections, Paul Isaak, dispelled any doubts about the use of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in an interview with Nampa. This comes after complaints by opposition parties that they are in the dark over whether or not the machines would be used in the elections.

"This year, we will have three types of elections. The first one will be the Ohangwena regional council by-election, slated for 5 August," the ECN director said.

The ECN is conducting the by-election, following the death of Ohangwena Constituency Councillor Maria Kombwana early in May.

"The second election will be the two Local Authority (LA) elections at the Otjinene Constituency in the Omaheke region and Bukalo Constituency in the Zambezi region, which will be held towards the end of August," he said.

The Otjinene by-election was necessitated by government's decision to change the status of Otjinene from that of a settlement to a town. The elections were initially supposed to take place in 2013, but were postponed when the Swapo Party and the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) challenged the registration of over 404 prospective voters prior to the envisaged election last year.

The merit of the challenge was the eligibility of the concerned individuals as voters. The challenge was taken to court, where it was struck off the court roll last year.

By-elections will also be held for the first time in the Bukalo Constituency as it is a newly proclaimed LA, the ECN Director noted. The by-elections are in addition to the national general elections slated for November this year.

"At present, all we are waiting for is the finalisation of the registration of voters, which will take place early in June, in order for us to proceed with the supplementary registration of voters for the two LA elections before the end of August," he stated.

The ECN director pointed out that the EVMs, which will be used for all elections, are intended to replace the use of a paperwork-based system during the forthcoming national elections and any proceeding or subsequent elections.

On concerns that there is a possibility for the EVMs to be tampered with, Isaak indicated that the machines are designed in such a way that they do not have any kind of computerised system in place.

"The EVM is a stand alone machine which consists of two parts, namely the ballot unit which will be used by the voter and the control unit which will be handled by a trained official," he explained.

Isaak indicated that the fact that the machine does not have a computerised system excludes the possibility of tampering.

To put the minds of the various stakeholders - the political parties - at ease, the ECN director said during every election, political parties are free to provide party agents who will see to it that tampering does not take place.

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