4 August 2013
The National Advisory Committee (NAC) is convened by the Elections Commission (EC) and is the highest statutory advisory body for elections. The committee comprises the five members of the Elections Commission, a representative of each of the four candidates contesting the Presidential Elections 2013, a member of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, Maldives Media Council and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, a representative of the Maldives Police Service and civil society.
Transparency Maldives’ (TM) Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed sits on the National Advisory Committee for Elections as the civil society representative.
At the second meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Elections held at the Elections Commission’s headquarters on 4 August 2013, Transparency Maldives sought clarifications, made comments and observations and gave advice. Citizen concerns raised through social media were conveyed to EC. A summary of the details follow.
1. TM advised the EC to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) with regard to the authority of the EC staff in charge of elections and the police officer stationed at the polling center. As per the electoral legal framework, the lead EC staff is in charge of the polling area and any intervention from the police must be made upon the request of the EC staff in charge. However, the protocols for intervention in an emergency has not been cleared though the EC and there is no common understanding of such protocols. Additionally, both the MPS and EC have separately commenced training of their staffs and officials without the protocols in place. It is imperative that the MPS and the EC come to an understanding, and details of the such an MoU or document must be publicized to build trust between MPS, EC and the public. TM also recommended the roles of responsibilities of the police be made public at the polling station via posters.
Outcome: The NAC was informed that the issue will be discussed at the next EC meeting on 5 August 2013.
2. TM requested for the minute details of standards to determine physical disability, and chronological steps of the counting and assisted voting processes as such details have not been made public yet. Assisted voting was a major concern for Transparency Maldives in the Local Council Elections due to the room for negative impact on the free exercise of the franchise in the absence of clear procedures.
Outcome: EC informed the NAC that the requested details will be published as part of the Officials’ Handbook and will be made available for the NAC at the earliest.
3. TM sought clarifications on the problems with the resort voting. As per the legal framework, a ballot box can only be placed once 50 voters are registered at the resort and if the required 50 voters is not reached, the persons who have registered will default to their permanent residence registry. TM requested EC to allow for administrative leniency in such instances for re-registration to enable such voters to re-register at a place of their choice upon finding that the required number was not reached.
Outcome: EC informed the NAC that staff of resorts have been informed via resort administrations to register to ballot boxes in nearby islands should the required number not be reached by 6. The deadline for re-registration is 7 August 2013.
4. TM sought clarifications from the MPS and the EC as to why MPS was collecting details of deceased persons from islands.
Outcome: MPS representative clarified that the MPS is collecting the data for investigation purposes due to complaints of ghost voter registration, upon request of EC.
5. TM sought an update on the numbers of new ID cards issued. The EC at the first meeting of the NAC informed that 6,500 plus citizens will require to renew ID cards to vote.
Outcome: The EC will clarify with the Department of National Registration (DNR) and provide an update to the NAC at the next NAC meeting.
Other points of note:
- EC informed the NAC that 300 plus persons with double identity card numbers are on the voter registry. The 300 persons can theoretically be issued 600 ID cards. Over a 1,000 such entries have been removed by the EC by communicating directly with persons. EC proposed and the NAC agreed that the EC may put two fields for both ID numbers for persons assigned double numbers so that once a person votes with one of such ID card, the person will then not be able to vote with the second ID card.
- With 3 days to the re-registration deadline, 44,000 of an estimated 65,000 are now registered.
- The EC has been assured by the DNR that ID cards for about 350 inmates will be provided in time for voting.