Malawi Electoral Commission to investigate into causes leading to voter apathy

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says its 2012-2017 strategic plan has incorporated establishment of causes of voter apathy in the country as one of its activities.

Voter apathy is the situation whereby registered voters fail to cast their votes due to various reasons a challenge the country has registered in the elections it has been conducting.

In a questionnaire response spokesman for the commission, Sangwani Mwafulirwa said when the causes are identified, the Commission will come up with particular programmes to address them.

“Even though during general elections there is always high voter turnout, we have included voter apathy as one of the main components in our strategic plan of 2012-2017,” said Mwafulirwa.

Mwafulirwa: To investigate

Mwafulirwa also stated that since no research has been conducted on causes of voter apathy in the country ever since the inception of multiparty democracy, it will be hard for the Commission to state specific causes.

“As of now, it will be tough for us to distinctly point out the causes of voter apathy but judging from research conducted in other countries, some of the factors include inadequate voter and civic education, lack of political will, lack of information on the contesting candidates and their political parties which can help the electorate make choices,” narrated Mwafulirwa.

The MEC’s publicist further said in situations where the majority of the population is politically alienated and feel that politics has less impact on their lives, they are likely not to vote because they may not appreciate the importance of their vote.

He also mentioned distance to polling centers as another factor that aids voter apathy.

Mwafulirwa said; “Voter turnout may also be affected in situations where the polling centres are far from the people and they have to walk or cycle long distances. This is pronounced among the aged and sick.”

Although this is so, MEC says turnout for Mzimba by-elections was an improvement from previous by-elections.

“The percentage turnout for Mzimba Central was 50.44 while for Southwest was 51.63. This is an improvement as compared to the turnout for the by-elections held in Rumphi Central in September 2011 where turnout was 45 percent.

“This is an achievement considering that there was no active participation of the civil society organizations in the by-elections in Mzimba because of funding and all the voter and civic education activities were done by MEC alone.” revealed Mwafulirwa.

Voter apathy is typically uncalled for because it allows undeserving contestants to triump

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