ECN, parties in ballot paper talks

17 February 2020 | Politics

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is having a series of consultations with political parties over whether to use a verifiable paper trail with electronic voting machines, as ordered by the Supreme Court, or whether to revert to the use of ballot papers in upcoming elections.

Chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro also confirmed that ballot papers will be used in the upcoming Otjiwarongo and Opuwo by-elections slated for 9 March.

Consultations with political parties are being planned for March and April, Mujoro said following a meeting on Friday that decided to use ballot papers for the 9 March by-elections. “The ECN wishes to inform the nation that consultations will be held with stakeholders during March and April with a view to discuss different options regarding the manner of voting in future elections,” Mujoro said.

Political parties including the All People's Party (APP), the Christian Democratic Voice (CDV), the Landless People's Movement (LPM), the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEEF), Nudo, the National Patriotic Front (NPF), the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), the Republican Party (RP), Swanu, Swapo and the United People's Movement (UPM) all agreed to the use ballot papers in the upcoming by-elections, Mujoro said.







This follows a Supreme Court ruling which said the use of EVMs without the use of a verifiable paper trail is unconstitutional.



The court challenge was brought by former independent candidate Panduleni Itula, who wanted the court to nullify the November presidential poll and order a rerun.



Chief Justice Peter Shivute ruled earlier this month that the omission of a verifiable paper trail was invalid and said future elections conducted with EVMs should take place with a verifiable paper trail.



Namibia first used EVMs in its 2014 general election, but omitted the use of a verifiable paper trail. Following his garnering of about 30% of the presidential vote last year, Itula challenged the outcome of the poll, in which the incumbent President Hage Geingob narrowly escaped an automatic rerun. Geingob's vote had plummeted from 87% in 2014 to 56% last year.



Mujoro was asked by Namibian Sun how the ECN would introduce a verifiable paper trail in future elections or whether ballot papers would be used in future polls.



“We are using ballot papers for the upcoming two by-elections. A final decision for the future will be made after consultations with all the stakeholders,” Mujoro said.

OGONE TLHAGE

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