Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) says it has established that some ballot papers in the presidential race in the May 21 Tripartite Elections were wrongly declared ‘null and void’.
Through its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) initiative, Mesn yesterday highlighted various anomalies it insists need “renewed vigilance in rectifying to ensure credible election results”.
In an interview in Blantyre yesterday, Mesn board chairperson Steven Duwa said the PVT established that at 37 percent of polling streams, presidential ballot papers were found in either the parliamentary or ward councillor ballot boxes.
He said: “Of concern, at 24 percent of polling streams, the initiative reported there were presidential ballot papers that were rejected after being declared ‘null and void’ even though they were clearly marked and the voter’s intention was clear.”
Duwa said the development could be a result of insufficient logistical preparations and a lack of clarity in procedures and training that could mar the swift process of releasing credible election results.
In its report, the network also reported that there was potential of undermining the secrecy of the vote because party representatives could see how voters’ ballot papers were marked prior to being cast in the box. This is said to have happened at 18 percent of the polling streams PVT observed.
The Mesn findings come in the wake of concerns Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chief elections officer Sam Alfandika expressed during a press conference yesterday at the national tally centre in Blantyre over the delay in getting results from polling centres nationwide.
In an interview, Duwa backed the electoral body, saying it was still doing a commendable job to this end.
“We can confirm that this and the issues discovered so far do not appear to undermine the credibility of the process and the counting process [in the centres] was conducted in an inclusive manner.
“This was a huge improvement to the way elections were conducted in 2014 and before,” he said.
The network did not have the details handy as regards specific locations where such anomalies happened, but confirmed that their findings prove they happened in the three regions of the country.
Through the initiative, Mesn assigned 907 observers to statistical samples of 800 polling streams and 809 polling stations.
The observers arrived at 5am and observed the entire process until the final results were announced and posted for the entire polling station.