Suspected ‘marked ballots’ intercepted: Malawi Electoral Commission dismiss fears

Opposition and electoral stakeholders on Sunday evening claimed to have intercepted ballots already marked for ruling People’s Party (PP) but officials dismissed the fears, saying they were simply electoral stationery being transported to polling stations.

Opposition sympathizers took it on social media posting pictures  of boxes carrying the stationery and claimed they had “concrete evidence” that they were containing pre-marked ballots for President Joyce Banda.

The incident happened at Lilongwe District Education Manager’s office.

These were suspected to be ballot boxes carring pre-marked ballot papers
These were suspected to be ballot boxes carring pre-marked ballot papers

A group of opposition members came and deflated the tyres of the vehicles which was carrying the electoral materials.

PP accused the opposition of “hallucinating” over the fear of losing.

Just last week, opposition members rounded the  vehicles  they suspected were carrying already marked up ballot papers for PP but it turned out that it was carrying reflectors imported from China.

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa confirmed that the reflectors are to be used in the May 20 Polls.

Another vehicle was followed by opposition operatives suspected that it was carrying ballot papers but in fact it was ferrying Likuni Phala.

Addressing journalists on state of preparedness for the May 20 2014 tripartite elections Sunday morning in Blantyre, MEC chairperson Maxon Mbendera took time to respond to issues regarding voter identification, the voting process, ballot security, anti-rigging safe guards, results transmission and tallying process.

On Friday, the Commission dispatched ballot papers from the warehouse at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) to all the councils.

Mbendera assured Malawians that the ballot papers arrived safely in all the councils and that each council identified a secure warehouse where they have placed armed security for 24hours.

“Today (Sunday) and tomorrow (Monday) the ballot papers will be distributed from the councils to the Constituencies where they will be distributed further to the centres,” said Mbendera, who was flanked by Commissioners Emmanuel Chinkwita-Phiri and Gloria Chingota, among others.

Mbendera also took time to encourage registered voters who might finding their names missing in the voter’s role to insist that the polling staff should check his or her details in the Part A records, which he said, are permanent records taken during voter registration.

The Commission has determined that each polling stream to be not more than 800 voters.

According to Mbendera, the ballot paper has several anti-counterfeit security features like anti-copy watermarks, ultra-violet marks and micro-print.

“As we have said before, we have made sure that we know our ballots and that we they know us,” he stressed.

The ballot papers will be distributed in books of 100 ballots. The counterfoil of these ballots are uniquely numbered.

“A number of ballots with their serial numbers are delivered to specific polling centers for voting. After voting, with the counting process, the Commission can also audit the number of ballots cast against those delivered. This is one of many safeguards,” he explained.

Malawians go to the polls this Tuesday, May 20, to vote for President, MPs, and councilors.

MEC  has since commended all the contesting candidates, political parties and followers for the successful and peaceful campaign that ended Sunday morning, 48 hours before voting starts.

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