Opposition advocates for electronic voting

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Opposition parties have called on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to introduce the electronic voting system.

This comes after IEC took 48 hours to release results of last weekend’s Goodhope/Mabule by-election.

Verification process took about 16 hours while vote  counting started around 12:05 midday on Sunday and lasted until about 02:00 am the following day.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) spokesperson Dithapelo Keorapetse said the whole process of the IEC administration needs to be improved.

“We cannot have a situation where polling stations are closed at 07:00 pm and results are announced two days after. The running of elections needs improvement. The manual way of running elections is problematic and IEC needs to admit that,” Keorapetse said.

He said the manual process is becoming costly for the government and political parties as well.

“IEC should benchmark in Namibia because they are using the electronic voting system,” he said.

Keorapetse stressed that IEC officials should avoid unnecessary breaks, which take long because people might tamper with the ballot boxes. 

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa said IEC should also consider counting votes at polling stations to save time.

“This tendency of taking days or more than 12 hours for election results to be announced creates instability and uncertainty. We believe that verification should take three hours and counting can also take three to four hours not more than that,” Mohwasa said.

He said IEC should try by all means to be efficient in their work to avoid a situation where people start to question the credibility of the elections.

As much as they appreciated political parties’ concerns, the IEC spokesperson Osupile Maroba said the election process is very sensitive and therefore could not be rushed. He said it was important that all concerned parties appreciate every step that they take.

“We had dispatched a good number of election officers like what we did during the general elections. It should be understood that everyone should be involved during verification and counting time. Therefore it is important for returning officers to give his/her team break whenever they are tired,” Maroba said.

“We cannot continue counting or verifying votes while our team is tired. It needs to refresh so that elections become fair. Results can come late as long as we have satisfied ourselves that there are no mistakes from our part,” he said.

He said the issue of a time break for counting officers depends on the returning officer because counting officers consult them time and again. Maroba said elections are not supposed to be rushed to avoid legal suits. “We want to protect the integrity of IEC at all times to have transparent and fair elections,” he said.

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