Mesn says pace of voter registration slow, might discourage would be voters

The Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) says the pace of voter registration currently underway in five districts in Malawi’s southern region is slow and might discourage would be voters.

Malawi will hold tripartite elections on May 20, 2014 and the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) commenced fresh voter registration exercise on July 22 ahead of the country’s first ever tripartite elections.

In statement released Wednesday, Mesn also says there is need to increase the team of technicians for back-up and maintenance of broken down machines so that it does not take too long to fix them.

“The registration process is slow and resulting in some eligible voters being turned away and being told to register the next. Most registration staff are still learning how to operate machines and OMR forms.

Voter registration underway
Voter registration underway

“This is further making the process to be slow. In some cases the quality control managers and supervisors were seen taking over the roles of clerks to speed up the process,” reads the statement jointly signed by its Board Chair and Network Coordinator Steve Duwa and Robert Silungwe, respectively.

Some machines especially printers have been having technical problems and need replacement, according to Mesn.

“Enough back-up machines should be readily available at Mec so that registration does not stall,” it adds.

However, Mesn says Mec has been responsive to the challenges raised by its staff from the registration centres.

“In other instances, it has deployed additional teams to speed up registration of voters. However, some of the challenges still remain unresolved.”

Mesn says while there is need to train civil society observers and party monitors for voter registration observation, registration personnel are trying their best to cope with the large number of registrants.

“Mesn would therefore like to encourage all eligible voters not to despair but be patient till they get registered.

“As the process goes into other phases, Mesn encourages civil society organizations and political parties to properly train their observers and monitors so that they know what to observe and monitor when at registration centres,” says Mesn.

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