Elections Commission Has Appointed Ruling Party Activists to Help Administrate and Count the Vote

18 September 2018, MALE: The Maldives’ Elections Commission has appointed 107 activists and members of President Yameen’s ruling party, the PPM, and tasked them with critical official work on election day, the opposition has learned.

In yet another egregious example of bias, the Elections Commission has given the PPM activists official roles in administrating the voting, vote counting, and complaints procedures on election day. These PPM activists, as officials will have sole discretion on how to adjudicate a complaint at the polling booth.

On 15 September, the Joint Opposition submitted a written complaint to the Elections Commission, demanding that these political activists are relieved of their responsibilities. The Elections Commission, however, has refused to address our complaint. At the bottom of this press release is an attachment with the names of the 107 PPM activists employed by the Elections Commission.

Not only did the Elections Commission employ the PPM activists, they selected them for the job over candidates who applied for the roles and are politically neutral, nor members of any political party.

Moreover, the Elections Commission appointed some of the PPM activists to roles, even though the activists never even applied.

Even since their appointment as officials, these Elections officials have been seen, photgraped and videoed , participating in ruling party rallies, giving speeches, and wearing the pink tee-shirts of the ruling party. The attched ANNEX will show a number of the officials caught on camera.

A Long List of Fraud And Politicised Actions

This is the latest in a long list of bias, unlawful, and deeply troubling decisions by the Elections Commission, which is headed by Ahmed Shareef, a staunch Yameen loyalist who was previously Secretary General of Yameen’s former political party, the People’s Association.

In recent days, the Elections Commission has come under fire for:
· refusing to allow political parties to use a copy of the final, signed voter register, at polling stations, opening up the prospect of double voting and other fraud.
· planning to use tablet computers to tally the vote; and ordering Elections Commission officials at the ballot boxes not to announce the vote until the central Elections Commission has ‘verified’ it — in a clear breach of election law and precedence.
· ordering Elections Commission officials at the vote counting not to show independent and political party monitors the result of each ballot; but merely allowing them to look at the final pile of ballot papers, after they have been bundled and stapled together. This in effect prevents monitors from verifying the credibility of the vote counting process.
· allowing the ruling party to vet voter re-registration forms.
· refusing to hold a credible investigation into leaked video of the First Lady and the President discussing receiving civil servants’ voter re registration forms, at President Yameen’s campaign office, before they are forwarded to the Commission.
· refusing to demand investigation into violent attacks on opposition campaign quarters
· refusing to condemn the politically biased jailing of opposition activists
· refusing to speak out against the deliberate disenfranchisement of parts of the electorate, such as recently released prisoners whose ballot box and place of vote is inside the prison they have been freed from (and where they are not permitted to return to vote).

ANNEX I – List of 107 PPM activists hired by the Elections Commission (in Dhivehi)