Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Namibia: "Selfies" banned in polling booths

VOTERS planning to freeze the moment by taking quick self-portraits (selfies) while casting their votes this month will be breaking the law, the Electoral Commission of Namibia has said.

ECN director of operations Theo Mujoro said although there will not be any “No photographs” prohibiting signs on display inside or outside the booths, voters are discouraged from taking selfies while casting their votes.

Mujoro said taking selfies compromises the secrecy of the ballot, which is guided by the Constitution. Last week, ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja said ensuring that voters stick to the 'no-selfie' rule might prove to be a challenge since people will be alone in a closed booth when they vote.

However, Mujoro said as part of the ECNs control measures, officers will still warn voters ahead of time that selfies will not be allowed.

“Presiding officers and election officials at various polling stations will keep a watchful eye on anyone trying to contravene the law in this regard,” said Mujoro.

He said that anybody found contravening the law will be dealt with in terms of the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, although he did not specify what the penalty would be.

Mujoro said only accredited media will be allowed to take pictures inside polling booths.

He also said ECN director Paul Isaak will communicate a formal directive on the “dos” and “don'ts” that have to be adhered to on the day of the elections.

Elections in countries such as the Netherlands in March, where taking selfies while voting, were allowed, saw voters sharing the selfies on social media platforms, in some cases revealing their choices.

However, countries such as Brazil, in elections held earlier this month, banned the taking of selfies.

The Namibian

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