The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Judge Dr. Chifundo Kachale has disclosed that the Commission will conduct research on null and void votes from May to June, 2021.
Kachale stated that the study will be conducted in conjunction with the Centre for Social Research of the University of Malawi and aims to explore various forms and map the distribution of null and void votes in Malawi.
Additionally, the study intends to establish potential indicators of protest votes as opposed to unintentional errors and to explore possible explanatory variables, which may be pursued for further investigation.
“We also expect the study to offer recommendations based on the findings towards reducing the rate of null and void votes,” said Kachale in a statement issued on May 20, 2021.
He said the research methodology will involve a desk review of the ballot papers for the Tripartite Elections.
The results of the study will inform the design and delivery of various electoral activities including voter education.
Kachale said to that effect, the Commission will be opening ballot boxes for the 2019 Tripartite Elections from 24th to 31st May, 2021 at the Parliament warehouses in Lilongwe where the ballot boxes are kept.
He added that although the overall national rate of null and void votes in recent general elections and by-elections have been mostly lower than the internationally accepted standard of 3.5 percent of the votes cast, the rates have been rising recently.
“In 2014 the rate of null and void votes was at 1.09 percent for the Presidential election, 1.43 percent for the parliamentary election, and 2.35 percent for local government elections. These rates increased to 1.46 percent, 2.03 percent and 3.43 percent respectively in 2019 elections.
“The Commission feels the findings will further help to come up with strategies that will stop and reverse this trend. At the end of the study, the Commission shall hold a stakeholders’ meeting to release and discuss the findings,” explained the MEC chairperson.