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Home / All set for elections… as electoral tribunal dismisses EVM challenge

All set for elections… as electoral tribunal dismisses EVM challenge

2019-11-26  Maria Amakali

All set for elections… as electoral tribunal dismisses EVM challenge

WINDHOEK – It is all systems go for tomorrow’s Presidential and National Assembly elections after the Electoral Tribunal yesterday dismissed an urgent application that challenged the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

In his ruling the chairperson, Uaatjo Uanivi, said the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and thus cannot direct it not to make use of the EVMs in tomorrow’s general election.  

“Currently there is no law which obliges the ECN to endorse the upcoming elections by way of using EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT),” explained Uanivi.

On the urgency of the case, the tribunal ruled that the reasons presented for the urgent application were vague.

The tribunal dismissed and ordered the plaintiff and independent presidential candidate Dr Panduleni Itula to pay the legal costs of his respondents in the matter.

Itula had approached the tribunal seeking a court order against ECN not to make use of the EVMs in the general election, while alternatively suggesting that a paper trail be used simultaneously with the voting machines.

Itula further sought the court to order ECN to implement paper ballots and ballot boxes to function simultaneously and in conjunction with the EVMs. 

He further wanted an order to direct the ECN at its own cost to appoint duly qualified technicians to inspect the EVMs at every polling station.

Itula sought a court order that would impose sanctions or penalties, which may include criminal sanctions against ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja for her alleged negligence in dealing with the EVMs in relation to missing machines that were loaned out to Swapo in 2017.

Speaking to the media after the ruling, Tjipueja said that the commission is within the legal framework with the use of the EVMs without making use of the paper trail. 

“The ECN is aware of the concerns of the public for the introduction of the VVPAT and we have indicated that this specific method that is being used in India is not conducive or responsive to our needs. It has a lot of irretrievable errors and that is why we have not been able to introduce the VVPAT at this point in time,” explained Tjipueja. 

The commission is currently looking at other systems that would be effective.
PDM leader McHenry Venaani, who also attended the judgement hearing, challenged the judiciary system to stop acting on technicalities when dealing with issues of elections. 

“Elections are not fought on matters of technicalities. Elections are fought on fundamentals of transparency and the EVMs in their current form do not address the issue of transparency of the votes,” explained Venaani.

Local lawyer Henry Shimutwikeni represented Itula, while senior counsel William Mokhare represented the ECN. 

2019-11-26  Maria Amakali

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