Additional scribbles and doodles apart from the required checkmarks on ballots facilitate election fraud via vote selling, declared Transparency Maldives (TM) as it warned Wednesday that the parliament’s recent rejection of the bill seeking to nullify ballots with unnecessary writings will have repercussions on the candidates of upcoming elections.
In a statement, TM backed the amendment proposing to nullify scribbled voting ballots, saying that such a ban would have prevented selling of votes and ensured anonymity of voters.
Citing a research report released by the International Foundation of Electoral Systems in 2014, TM stated that the most common method of election fraud is voters, who are coerced to vote for certain candidates, putting an additional mark on the ballot which was previously agreed upon between the voter and baiter. TM added that when the votes are counted, the marks are used to ascertain that the voter has chosen the candidate forced upon them.
TM also referred to the convention hosted by the Elections Commission two years ago, during which all political parties and state institutions concurred that additional marks and writings on ballots should be nullified to prevent election fraud.
The anti-graft advocacy group heavily criticised the government’s approach to the elections, raising concerns over the upcoming Local Council Elections originally scheduled for January 14 being delayed by two months on request of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), as well as the recently passed and ratified elections ban on candidates that fail election primaries.
TM declared that banning candidates, which fail the primaries of their own parties, from running again through other methods infringe the rights of peoples’ right to run for elections while violating the impartiality and justness of elections. It noted that no country following independent democratic systems adopts such a law which curtails this right given to every citizen in the Constitution.
Condemning the Civil Court’s order to the Elections Commission to postpone the local elections to March 2017, TM warned that such leniency, which was made with regard to the internal disputes of a political party, violates the trust of people in the elections system as well as pave the way for such delays in future elections.
The order to delay the local elections by two months comes in the wake of the case filed at the Civil Court by the divided ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) seeking to postpone the local elections from January to March 2017 over recent political disputes within the party that had hindered PPM’s preparations for the Local Council Elections on time. The lower court had ruled in favour of PPM, declared that proceeding with the elections such that PPM cannot take part would be a violation of democratic policies, damaging the common interests of the state.