Elsewhere in this edition, we report on an outrage towards the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision to chop 348 polling stations from next year’s elections. Already with high voter apathy, the move will add to the woes, as many voters will be forced to travel longer distances to register and then vote.
The IEC says the review of polling stations was done after assessment of the 2014 turnout, looking at the low numbers at some stations, security of election officers, population mobility, availability of built-up structures and congestion of polling stations in a polling district.
The IEC might have a point in terms of resource shortage, but this will not help with increasing number of voters. It will, without doubt lead to less people registering to cast their votes.
The fact that some voters will have to travel extended distances to exercise their democratic right next year, will discourage many and eventually distort the final outcome of the elections. This will likely lead to necessitating supplementary registration which in turn will lead to additional costs which they tried to avoid.
As it stands, some polling stations do not have tents and other structures where registration officers can seek refuge and continue with their work during harsh weather conditions. The lack of chairs, where voters can wait also needs to be addressed as some people end up going back without registering.
Another issue is visibility. The IEC
Political parties should also join the IEC in mobilising people to register and vote to preserve the beautiful democracy Botswana is known to be.
As much as the IEC are custodians of elections, political parties are also critical stakeholders in a democracy. Though there are internal quarrels in various parties, it is critical that they play a part in making their followers register to vote.
We also urge community leaders, public figures, churches and each and every citizen to encourage others to play their part in enhancing Botswana’s democracy.
“Voting is how we participate in a civic society - be it for president, be it for a municipal election. It’s the way we teach our children - in school elections - how to be citizens, and the importance of their voice.”
- Loretta Lynch