Low turnout of voters characterized the by-elections that were conducted today [Tuesday] in Thyolo East and Blantyre North constituencies as well as in five other wards.
Most polling centers opened around 6am with almost all the materials available but voting was marred by poor attendance as few registered voters turned up to cast their ballot.
Spot checks by The Nation crew in some polling centers in Thyolo East and Blantyre North constituencies showed the number of electoral officials surpassed that of voters in most polling centers.
Malawi President Peter Mutharika, who voted at Goliati Primary School in Thyolo East, was even overhead asking some senior officials why the center had registered a low turnout.
Mutharika arrived at Goliati Primary School at 12:40pm and took just four minutes to finish the whole process of casting his vote. Just like in other centers, there were no queues of voters.
After voting Mutharika told reporters that he had “to vote and exercise my right to participate in voting.”
At around 3pm, The Nation witnessed Lirangwe Primary School polling center waiting for two voters in about 20 minutes.
Presiding Officer at the center which had slightly above 3000 registered voters, Owen Mandiseni, expressed doubt over the possibility of the center to reach 75 percent of the voters.
“We are just remaining with few hours before close of voting and yet we have not even reached 50 percent. I very much doubt if we will manage to reach even 75 percent,” he said.
In Kasungu, the district commissioner Spiwe Mauwa said although all the polling centres for Lifupa Ward opened as early as 6am, voter turnout was also low and not impressive.
“We are just hoping that the number of voters turning up will increase in the evening before the centres closes at 6pm because maybe people are busy with some household chores while others are at work,” she said.
Reighard Chavula, DC for Machinga said around 1pm though no violent case were reported, voters turn out was very poor.
“13,120 people registered for voting, but by 3pm, only 2, 280 had casted their ballot at the polling centres. Maybe the situation will get better later in the afternoon,” she said.
The situation was the same in Ntcheu where DC Charles Makanga said the by-elections for Kandeu Ward in Ntcheu North Constituency has been characterised by “very very low turnout”.
Makanga said out of the five centres that he visited before noon, only a person or two could be seen to have come for voting despite that according to the Malawi Electoral Commission, 18, 789 people registered to vote.
He said: “Most of our staffs are just sited at the polling centres waiting for people to help but the people are nowhere to be seen. We just hope that maybe the situation will be different in the evening when people are back from the farms.”
MEC was conducting the by-elections in the two constituencies and five wards after voting was postponed during the May 20 Tripartite Elections due to death of aspiring candidates.
Counting of the votes started around 6pm yesterday justafter close of the voting process and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) was expected to announce the results once counting is finished.