EVMs to decide national elections despite misgivings

Despite several calls by political actors to do away with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) amid suspicion that they can be tempered to swing votes in favor of a certain political party or candidate, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is hellbent that the machines are going nowhere.

ECN's position regarding the Indian-made machines was laid bare by the commission's Chairperson, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja in response to media queries in Windhoek on Tuesday.

Tjipueja's remarks come at a time when several EVMs which were under the care of the ruling Swapo Party were reported missing.

Her remarks also come at time when several opposition parties have called EVMs to be fitted with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) devices for the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections or do away with machines altogether and revert to the traditional ballot paper voting system.

The paper-trail facility allows the verification of votes through a receipt that serves as proof that the vote cast was for a political party or candidate.

Independent presidential candidate, Panduleni Itula has also entered the debate around EVMs.

We cannot allow the ECN to coerce us into using a method of election that [we] do not prefer to use. And I will ask the nation at large to reject the EVMs, Itula was quoted recently.

But the ECN maintained that the missing EVMs cannot in any way affect outcome or the credibility of this elections that we are going to deliver.

Asked if there is any possibility of doing away with EVMs whose credibility continues dwindling in the public domain, she replied: We have given them [political parties] an opportunity to make written submissions of what they would want, they are not able to come up with a position or an alternative. They have only indicated about the VVPAT. And we have indicated to them what are the reasons why we are not able to introduce the VVPAT. That is clear.

Ask what the citizenry can do if they have lost faith in the EVMs and their credibility, she said: There is no process at this juncture.

Tjipueja continued: A motion was tabled in Parliament concerning the EVMs. The ECN has abided by that parliamentary process. We made representations and we made presentations to that parliamentary process. That parliamentary committee has issued a report. I don't know if any of you have made it your business as investigative journalists to get a copy of that report. If you read that report (all parties are members of that parliamentary committee) and if you read that report, they are concluding that EVMs should be used in these elections.

Source: Namibia Press Agency