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Sunday, 16 September 2018 09:03

MEC concerned with poor showing in voter registration

Written by  Maureen Murotho
Malawians will go to the polls on 21 May 2019 - File Photo Malawians will go to the polls on 21 May 2019 - File Photo

Blantyre, September 15, 2018: Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has said very few people are coming out to register in the on-going voter registration exercise for the May 21, 2019 polls as compared to previous years.

MEC Board Chairperson, Jane Ansah expressed concern on Friday in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana), noting that although the commission adopted various interventions to encourage people to register, the turnout was poor.

“We have conducted various awareness campaigns to the extent of involving institutions such as National Initiative for Civic Education, churches as well as traditional leaders but sadly, people are not coming out to register.

“We also partnered with mobile phone operators such as TNM and Airtel to alert people about the exercise through text messages, but the turn up still remains discouraging,” Ansah said.

Ansah, however, wondered why people have chosen not to register this time around when the registration process was both fast and efficient.

“This year’s exercise is less time-demanding and cannot be compared to previous years’ exercises. It saves time since a National Identification (ID) is used to extract and enter people’s details into the system.

“Using the biometric machine, MEC was supposed to register a large population more than their projected figures,” she said.

“Of course, we know that previously people rushed to register because they wanted to have the MEC ID which they used in accessing public services and because we are not offering an ID anymore, we assume that could be the main reason,” added the MEC chief.

Blantyre District, which was among the four districts in the fourth phase of the exercise, registered 73 per cent against the commission’s projection of 100 per cent, according to Ansah.

Despite the low turn up, Ansah assured that MEC would continue with the awareness campaigns and encourage people to come out in their large numbers to register in the voters roll.

On whether MEC would conduct a second round of voter registration exercise, Ansah said the commission will have to analyze the outcome of the results after all phases have been completed.

“The final results of the whole exercise will determine whether we should carry out another registration exercise, but now only in those areas where the turn up was too poor,” she said.

The voter registration exercise, which is being conducted in phases, started in the central region and currently it is being done in the southern region. In the completed four phases, MEC registered 3,721,774 people, representing 81 per cent of the projected 4,619,174 eligible voters.

Of the total figure, 1, 980,068 are women while 1,741,199 are men. The last phases will be held in the Northern Region.
MEC has since appealed to the general public to join hands and encourage people to register and participate in next year’s tripartite elections.

Meanwhile, the fifth phase of the registration, which started on September 2 and will end on September 15, is in progress in five districts of Balaka, Neno, Thyolo, Phalombe and Mulanje.

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