Time for Mobile Polling Stations Reduced

THE Karas Swapo Party has expressed dismay over the decision by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) to reduce polling hours at mobile polling stations in the region.

The reduction of polling hours, according to Karas ECN regional coordinator, Barendt Both, was necessitated by the shortage of electronic voter machines after it was realised that there were only 15 slots on the machines instead of 16 for the number of registered political parties.

This forced the ECN to deploy two EVMs per polling station.

Speaking at a meeting convened by the police -with political parties last week, Karas Swapo Party regional coordinator, Mathew Mumbala, said reducing the polling hours at mobile polling stations will “deny some voters the right to exercise their democratic right”.

“I am not happy with the way the ECN has handled the issue by cutting polling hours at mobile polling stations,” Mumbala fumed, claiming the electoral body had failed to consult political parties before unilaterally reducing the voting hours at the mobile stations.

Mumbala questioned the legality of the decision of unilaterally “changing voting hours”. Due to the shortened hours, some mobile polling stations will be opened for two hours only.

The ECN representative disagreed that the reduced hours would negatively affect the electorate.

“I deny that voters will be denied their right to vote. We need to adapt if changes are needed,” said Both, adding “we should do away with the perception of Namibian time.

He explained that voting hours were reduced based on the number of registered voters in the localities.

“When the set poll hours pass, the mobile stations will not be closed while voters are still in the queue. The team will only pack up and move to the next location after allowing all voters to cast their votes,” said Both.

The political parties also complained about the slow voter education in the region.

The Karas police regional commander Armas Shivute, who chaired Wednesday’s meeting, revealed that so far no pre-election and campaign violence had been reported in the region.

“I thank all political parties for the peace prevailing in the region during the election campaign,” said Shivute.

SADC observers deployed to the region also attended the meeting.

Source : The Namibian