EVMs Speed Up Ohangwena Poll

History was made yesterday when for the first time electronic voting machines (EVMs) were used in Namibia in the Ohangwena by-election.

The much talked about machines were highly effective and voting went fairly smoothly.

Presiding officers and party agents at various polling stations could hardly contain their joy over the speed at which the process went.

With the many polling stations available voter queues were unusually shorter.

Big turnouts were observed from the early morning but later in the day only pairs and trios of people were seen arriving at polling stations.

The number was expected to increase again after 17h00.

“We had a big turnout in the morning but because of the EVMs, we were able to finish quickly,” said Elina Hainghono, a presiding officer at Okatope polling station.

Hainghono said the little challenge faced by officials was that voters did not attend the voter education programmes as they needed help with the use of the EVMs.

Equally happy were party agents for both Swapo and Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) who told New Era that the election was conducted in a good spirit.

Some of the representatives said presiding officers were very efficient.

“They told us to report to them immediately when we sensed something wrong. Officials are very professional and that makes things easier for us as party agents,” said Panduleni Shetunyenga of Swapo.

ECN Director Professor Paul John Isaak, who together with other senior election officers are in Ohangwena Region, said election results would be known within two hours after voting closed at 21h00 last night.

To ensure that results are issued by midnight, Isaak said no one would be allowed to join the voters’ queue after 21h00.

With the EVMs it takes voters between three to five minutes to cast their vote, while counting of votes at a single polling station would last not longer than three minutes.

As soon as voting is done at the 33 polling stations in the constituency, officials were expected to travel back to the verification centre and the results would be announced shortly thereafter.

“Slips coming from the machines (EVMs) and forms will be posted immediately after the counting at the polling stations and thereafter officials will make their way to the constituency office by 10pm or sometime after for verification, and results will be made available by midnight or sometime after midnight,”said ECN Chairperson Notemba Tjipueja.

Since Friday last week, the EVMs and ballot papers have been under heavy police guard.

By yesterday morning, 33 teams, each consisting of four ECN officials were accompanied by two police officers. The total number of election officials dispatched to Ohangwena Constituency was 134.

Extra EVMs were also provided to ensure there would not be a delay in the event that a machine broke down or experienced a technical problem.

Swapo and RDP representatives were called to inspect the machines, together with other election stakeholders and they all expressed confidence in the EVMs.

Source : New Era