Geingob Seeks Clarity On EVMs

Given the recent controversy surrounding the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the upcoming national elections, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) yesterday met Prime Minister, Dr Hage Geingob to discuss some pertinent issues regarding the elections.

ECN commissioners visited Geingob yesterday morning to update him on the electoral body’s preparations for the upcoming elections and to clear the air with regard to concerns on the use of EVMs during the upcoming elections.

The meeting came a day after Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) parliamentarian, Anton von Wietersheim, gave notice in the National Assembly that he will next week Thursday, ask the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Minister, (Rtd) Major-General Charles Namoloh on how he will allay the anxiety of the minority parties and win the trust and confidence of the electorate as a whole with regard to EVMs.

He will ask Namoloh whether he is aware that EVMs are repeatedly subject to court interventions when in July 2011,

the Supreme Court of India asked the Indian Electoral Commission to consider and respond to the request the EVMs should be modified to provide a simultaneous print- out of the voter’s ballot on paper.

He said he will also ask Namoloh whether he is aware, “In 2012 the Delhi High Court ruled that EVMs are not tamper-proof and added that the Electoral Commission of India should hold wider consultations with the Executive, political parties and other stakeholders and that in October 2013 the Supreme Court of India directed the Electoral Commission of India to introduce voter verifiable paper audit trail system for the next general elections in India, in order to ensure free and fair elections?”

Yesterday, Geingob specifically wanted to know why the Indian courts have called for a paper trail if the EVMs are as good as the ECN says they are.

ECN Chairperson, Notemba Tjipueja who led the ECN delegation said calls for a paper trail were just a statement made within a judgement in the Indian courts and that there was no court order made with regard to paper trails.

“The courts merely said that it would be good for companies manufacturing EVM’s to look at machines which produce a paper trail, there was no mandatory court order made,” she said.

She also informed Geingob that Indian companies are still busy manufacturing machines that can produce paper trails therefore the country cannot source such machines for the upcoming elections. “The EVM is not a computer, it is similar to a tabulator, and it can only be opened at a later stage after the elections through a court order. We will have credible elections because these machines cannot be manipulated,” assured Tjipueja.

Tjipueja also mentioned the fact the usage of EVMs during elections will reduce the number of spoiled ballots and at the same time decrease the time in which election results will be released.

“During the 2009 elections we had over 12 000 spoiled votes, this will not be the case anymore, meaning parties will now get all the votes as per the votes casted,” she said.

Although the election date is yet to be gazetted, polls are set to take place towards the end of November.

Tjipueja also admitted the ECN is yet to receive the full consignment of EVMs required for the upcoming elections, but ensured that the final consignment of the machines will be acquired before the elections. She could, however, not give a date as to when the machines will be in the country.

Source : New Era