The National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust says the physical and manual management of election results used in the November 10 by-elections may not be ideal for the 2025 Tripartite Elections.
Nice Trust executive director Ollen Mwalubunju made the observation in a statement in reference to the by-elections in Makhuwira South Ward in Chikhwawa as well as Karonga Central and Lilongwe North West constituencies.
It reads: “Nice has noted that on management of results throughout the polling centres, the physical and manual system used for the by-election worked better but it is unlikely to work the same during the tripartite elections.”
Nice singled out the Karonga Central by-election as the most contested one which registered unprecedented voter turnout unlike the Makhuwira South Ward by-election whose turnout was low.
It adds: “Nice has observed that the post-election period has been calm in some areas like Makhuwira South Ward and Lilongwe North West Constituency while in Karonga Central Constituency, tension engulfed some places such as Lupembe and Mwenelondo.
“The trust appeals for continued peace across the areas where the by-elections took place.”
In an interview, Mwalubunju said the manual voter tabulation system may not work in a major election, encouraging players to start looking into the matter now.
“These were fewer but on a larger scale, whether that similar attention and quick responsiveness would be achieved is not known.
“That’s why we are recommending, it can always be tried on a larger scale, because at the same polling station, there will be three elections taking place—for a legislator, councillor and president,” he said.
Speaking during the declaration of by-election results for the three areas last Friday, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale said results from the polling stations were taken to the district commissioner where they were tallied but also sent to Lilongwe where the MEC National Tally Centre was set up.
He said: “I should thank all parties and candidates who sent their representatives to polling and tally centres to monitor the counting process. Their presence enhanced the transparency and credibility of the process.
“And I would like to appreciate the presence of [MEC] commissioners and its staff for facilitating the whole process.”
The electoral body is expected to announce dates for conducting by-elections in the three constituencies of Mangochi West, Mangochi North East and Phalombe North where the poll was deferred after some candidates obtained a High Court injunction restraining MEC from registering new voters and allowing new candidates to contest in the polls.