I’m one of the people who were recruited as one of the monitors in the May 2019 Tripartite Elections under the UTM Party . Mine was strictly a business arrangement – I got paid what was due to me; however I still feel obligated to share my experience with the nation because there’s just too much misinformation.
I was stationed at one of the polling stations in Lilongwe rural. Voting closed just before 7PM at our center and as per MEC direction we started emptying the ballot boxes to start sorting out the ballots and tallying the votes. As we started counting the votes we noted that there was an unusual high number of null and void votes.
Upon checking, we found out that this was due to the fact that some voters who were using thumb prints to vote were inadvertently smudging the ballot papers on several spots. Be that as it may, we could still tell that as much as some ballots has ink on more than one place this person definitely voted for Chakwera or whoever. It was too obvious.
We sat down and came up with a way forward. We weren’t going to throw these votes away because doing so would’ve meant having more than 6,000 null and void votes out of a possible 12,000 total votes. We made a collective decision to correct all such mistakes on the ballot papers and tally them as valid votes. Everyone was on board: UTM, DPP, UDF and MCP. Being a school, the most obvious and safest way to do this was to use corrective fluid.
After we finished tallying the results we had some forms which had arithmetical errors on them. We tried correcting the forms using ink but truth be told it was just too messy. Enter Tippex again. We finished our work and signed for everything only to start hearing on the radio and social media that the election was being stolen using Tippex.7
Of course I can only speak for what I personally witnessed but I can confidently tell my fellow Malawians that Tippex was only used to correct errors – it wasn’t done out of malice – no candidate was disadvantaged.
Today, the innocent corrective fluid (Tippex) is associated with rigging elections and some unsuspecting Malawians think it’s some kind of a sophisticated computer device. Thanks to a very effective smear campaign. It’s both funny and sad. Funny because some quarters have made people believe that someone supplied Tippex to us in order to gain an unfair advantage. Sad because the story has been twisted to suit the vote manipulation theory.
Please share my story so that all those who are objective enough know the truth. If we vote again then the whole world is going to see that it’s not possible not to make mistakes especially if you’ve been working the whole day and have to manually count and tally votes. I can’t wait to see the proposals on how such cases are going to be handled.
I’m not going to even bother asking you to hide my real identity because I’m writing to you under a fake name for obvious reasons.