Three judges of the Electoral Court granted the All People’s Party (APP) an interdict, ordering the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and its chief electoral officer to make available and allow the party to make copies of the 57 rejected ballots cast in the Ndonga Linena constituency during last year’s regional council elations.
The order directs the ECN to comply with 15 court days, with the return date of 14 July.
Judges Nate Ndauendapo, Boas Usiku and Hannelie Prinsloo made the order after Henry Shimutwikeni made the application during April this year on behalf of APP.
The APP challenged the outcome of the 25 November regional council elections after 57 ballots, cast in favour of its candidate, were declared spoilt after voters made crosses on the face of the candidate, instead of the appropriate box.
According to them, their agents observed on the day of the elections that 40 of the rejected ballots were in favour of the candidate.
However, when their agents objected to the rejection of the ballots and requested recounts, the presiding officers refused.
They further claim the presiding officer failed to record their requests in the occurrence book as according to the act.
The judges did not make their reasons for the ruling known.
In a previous application in January, in which they asked for a recount, judges Hosea Angula, Usiku and Prinsloo dismissed they had the application but granted Shimutwikeni an opportunity to approach the court with a different relief.
Shimutwikeni then filed papers to view and copy the ballots in question, which request was granted.
He argued that the right of political parties, through their agents, to participate in the examination, verification and counting of ballots cast was not afforded to APP because its agents were prevented by the returning officer from entering the verification centre to take part in those processes.
This was clearly a violation by the ECN presiding officers and the order sought will remedy the situation, Shimutwikeni argued.
“The applicant’s agents were at no other time afforded the opportunity to participate in the processes, which spans from the examination of ballot boxes and packets to assess whether there had been tampering, and to participate in the verification of the ballots during the counting thereof by the returning officer,” he further argued.
He went on to say the current matter before court is merely first seeking access to the electoral materials – and after inspecting and making copies of the same, if their allegations are confirmed, approach the court, seeking a recount.
He submitted that if the irregularities are confirmed, then the 40 voters (who cast their votes by marking the photographs of their preferred candidates) was violated because the votes cast were rejected and were not recorded or counted in the final tally of the election result.
This, he argued, could change the results and the outcome of the election.