Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Namibia Elections: Electronic Voting machines pass first test

The new electronic voting machines (EVMs) - used for the first time yesterday during the Ohangwena by-election - appear to have worked smoothly, with no hiccups experienced.
Yesterday’s seamless transition from ballot papers to electronic voting will no doubt give the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) more reason to push forward with its plans to use the EVMs during the November general elections.

ECN Chairperson Notemba Tjipueja said at a lunchtime press conference held at the Ohangwena Constituency Office that most voters were able to operate the EVMs without any problem.
Tjipueja said although the verification process was slowing down the entire process, as laptops were not being used, the actual voting using the EVMs was much quicker than with ballot papers.
“During the national elections we will use laptops for the verification process along with the EVMs, so the process will be even faster,” said Tjipueja. Registered voters and political party agents who spoke to Namibian Sun at the polling stations were generally upbeat about the new technology, with many admitting that the voting process was made easier and faster.

At the Onhuno polling station, Melia Josef, 83, said although she is not too familiar with technology, she did not have problems using the EVM, as she had attended the voter education sessions held before the by-election. “It wasn’t difficult at all. I came here today because I want a councillor,” said Josef. The by-election saw Swapo’s candidate Johannes Hakanyome go head-to-head with RDP candidate Vilho Shimwooshili. The by-election became necessary following the death of the previous councillor, Maria Kombwana, earlier this year. RDP agent at the Okatope polling station Jeremiah Ismael said he had not seen anything of concern or worth reporting. The Swapo agent at the same polling station, Panduleni Shetunyenga, also insisted that the voting process appeared to be running smoothly and that voters were not struggling to use the EVMs.

Young voters in school uniform and older voters with canes turned up in numbers at the polling stations, although no more than 100 people could be counted at any single polling station at a time.
Presiding officers insisted that the low numbers at the polling stations were mainly due to the fact that 33 polling venues were set up throughout the constituency, and the use of the new machines meant that the voting process was much faster. Ohangwena Police Commissioner Tylves Kampolo told Namibian Sun that the entire process had been peaceful. “No intimidation and confrontations between political parties have been reported so far. The behaviour of the community has been good and the security provisions made at the polls are intact,” said Kampolo. It was expected that the by-election results at each polling venue would be posted around 22:00 last night. The winner was expected to be announced at the Ohangwena Constituency Office after midnight.

Source: Namibian Sun

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