A total 709 out of the registered 1 044 Batswana in the diaspora have cast their vote during voting which took place on October 12, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has announced.
IEC received ballot papers from across all 35 external polling stations around the world on Tuesday, with the diaspora voting patterns differing from one polling station to another. IEC spokesperson Osupile Maroba said there could be different reasons over low voter turnout in some of the external polling stations citing long travelling distances among others. One of the grievances that were raised more particularly by Batswana based in Washington DC, America had complained that they had to travel long distance to register and voting as well.
Consequently, out of 126 issued ballot papers in Washington DC, the figures indicates that 86 were unused during the voting when 1 was spoilt with only 39 people casting their vote at DC. The London polling station also had low voter turnout as the station was issued with 212 ballot papers but only 71 were used whereas 141 returned unused.
Maroba said the commission had dispatched the ballot papers or envelopes well on time to all the diaspora polling stations so as to enable citizens to vote on time as scheduled. "The commission has done its part in ensuring that voting in the diaspora is facilitated. We are also very happy that all the polling stations conducted elections smoothly as well as submitting the ballot papers well on time," Maroba said on sidelines of receiving votes.
No council voting
IEC also said the electorates in the diaspora were only voting for the parliamentary candidates without voting for council representatives despite the court ruling that council shall be voted. The elections commission Chairman Justice Abednego Tafa said the provision of voting council candidates by diaspora voters will be only implemented during the upcoming 2024 elections. "Lobatse high court has ruled that it is unfair for diaspora voters to be denied opportunity to vote for the council representatives. IEC will make this provision available in 2024 elections and we couldn't implement it now due to resource and time constraints," Justice Tafa said, adding that resources' permitting the commission would like to increase or open more new polling stations in the diaspora in the next general elections to expand the voting muscle.
The diaspora votes show that the Gaborone constituencies' electorates voted more than others across all the external polling stations pulling total of 204 people who voted combined. Of all the five (5) constituencies, the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency had the most voters registering 58, followed by Gaborone North which had 57 people in the diaspora voting.
Gaborone central has pulled 44 diaspora voters, Gaborone Bonnington North 34 votes, while Gaborone Bonnington South came out as the least will 11 diaspora voters casting their vote.