16 September 2018, MALE: The Maldives Elections Commission is secretly planning to use tablet computers to collate election results from polling stations on election day, creating a new opportunity for vote rigging and fraud.
The Elections Act, Article 57 is very clear on this: the results must be announced and published physically at each polling station, and those results then communicated to the central Commission. The Elections Commission’s plan to use the tablets therefore is in direct contravention of the law, as well as breaking with past practice.
Leaked internal EC documents show that the Commission has been secretly planning to use the tablet computers for months, even though the EC has insisted publicly that the voting in this election will be counted in the same way as in previous polls.
An EC training document, leaked online last week, explains to EC officials at each polling station that, after the vote has been counted, they must enter the result on the tablet computer and wait for a ‘printed confirmation’ before publicly announcing the result.
In previous elections, EC staff publicly announced the result at the polling station, as soon as counting finished. No tablets were used.
Entering the votes on the tablets gives the EC far greater control over the announcement of the results from each polling station, as well as an opportunity to change the results from each ballot box before they are publicly announced, to ensure a victory for President Yameen.
The Opposition has already lodged repeated complaints with the EC, for refusing to share the final, signed voter list with political parties, opening the possibility for double voting and other election fraud. In the 2013 presidential election, the EC allowed political parties to make a copy of the final voter list.
The Commission’s actions have created fear and uproar that the Commission, and especially President Yameen’s crony, the President of the Commission, Ahmed Shareef is engineering massive voter fraud to favour Yameen.
An opposition spokesperson said: “At the 11th hour, we find out from leaked internal documents that the EC has secret plans to use tablet computers to count the vote – which will allow them to change the result to ensure a Yameen victory. The Elections Chief, Ahmed Shareef has been repeatedly lying to the public, insisting he will not break from past practice. This is absolutely scandalous and highlights, once again, why there is simply no trust in this politically compromised Elections Commission.”