Namibia: Manual Verification Slows Voting

26 November 2020

Obrein Simasiku

Albertina Nakale

Although the voting process went relatively smooth yesterday, Electoral Commission of Namibia officials had to battle with verification devices, which were failing to detect voters' cards, leading to delays and inconveniences to both voters and polling officers.

The officers had to revert to the manual verification system to confirm the authenticity of registered voters.

"Since 07h00, we had only served one voter, while the others the machine was failing to detect. It was only around 08h00 that it started working, thus we had to also rely on voters' polling book to verify," said Suama Iyambo a presiding officer of a mobile team that was deployed at Oshivelo.

Similarly, the same was experienced at the ELCIN church polling station at Omuthiya, Ondiika as well as Omuthiyagwiipundi and Omuntele polling stations.

"Some who we can't trace in the manual book but verified at head office are given forms to fill and can be allowed to vote," added another presiding officer at Omuthiyagwiipundi, also describing the process as cumbersome and time consuming. However, no one was sent away and denied voting.

Okahandja delays

At Okahandja, various polling stations delayed opening due to the malfunctioning voter's verification device as well as the late arrival of voting materials.

Upon arrival at various polling stations, some presiding officers told New Era that they experienced hiccups and delays due to the device not detecting the names of voters.

The Okahandja Town Hall polling station could not open on time.

They commenced with the voting process around 07h34.

Presiding officer Gerry Tjipueja explained the late delivery of election materials from the police station caused the delay.

According to Anna Alweendo who is the presiding officer at a polling station at Aurora Primary School they opened on time, with no major challenges experienced.

"Everything is going smooth. The only challenge was an individual whose name could not appear on the verification device. But we located it in the manual. Voters turned up in the morning," she said.

Kornelia Ndengu at Shipena Kindergarden polling station in 'Dom Lokasie' shared the same sentiments that they opened on time.

Gabriel Mutumbulwa, the presiding officer at Khaibasen Community Centre, said some party agents came late to verify the election materials which caused a delay.

"We opened on time but learned that the verification machine was not functioning. I called IT technicians and it was sorted. This caused the delay," he noted.

However, voters in the queues complained that the queues are too long and ECN officials are slow.

"They are very slow. We came here at 03h00. There is no order in the queues. There is no queue for the elderly, sick people and those disabled," bemoaned Maria Sakeus.

Another voter Helvi Shikongo also said there is no proper queueing, as elders did not receive preferential treatment.

"We came here at 04h00 but up until now [09h00] we did not vote. People left the lines and went back home because they are hungry and it is hot," Rosa Mathys noted.

Timoteus Munika who is an independent candidate in the Okahandja local authority said he brought a sick person to the queue but was unable to vote.

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