Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) says it will go ahead with next week’s supplementary registration of voters amid Covid-19 state of emergency restrictions that discourage gatherings of more than ten persons. Chief electoral and referenda officer Theo Mujoro yesterday said the commission will go ahead with the supplementary registration scheduled between 7-15 September.
The whole country is currently in stage three of the Covid-19 state of emergency, with a daily curfew imposed countrywide, while travel restrictions for Rehoboth, Windhoek and Okahandja remain in place until 12 September. The country late yesterday reported 142 new Covid-19 positive cases, six more Covid-19 related deaths, bringing the total number of cumulative confirmed cases to 7 692 and a total number of 81 deaths.
It is quite likely that queues would be in excess of ten people in some places, as registering for the local authority elections can take time because a number of documents have to be produced.
“This issue will be handled in exactly the same way it is handled in at banks and shops. People queue but only [a] certain number is allowed in at a time,” Mujoro said briefly yesterday when asked how the commission intends to go ahead with the supplementary registration next week if there is a limit on public gatherings to ten.
“We will divide queues into groups of ten with social distancing. I do not see this differing from the shopping experience,” he added.
The ECN in July unveiled its Covid-19 draft mitigation strategy, outlining specific plans that would be implemented to lessen the impact of the global coronavirus crisis ahead of this year’s regional council and local authority elections.
The elections are scheduled for 27 November.
Under the Covid-19 mitigation strategy, ECN said it will use online recruitment platforms to receive and review staff application. For in-person interviews, the ECN said it has identified facilities with sufficient space to allow for required physical distance, provide hand sanitisers and ensure the use of face masks, especially for pregnant women, elderly person and persons with pre-existing conditions.
On election day, the electoral body said even if no voters or election officials experience any symptoms of the virus, all precautions would be taken as if any person in the polling station could be infected.
“The placement of the tables and sets for election officials will respect the required physical distance and presiding officers will control the flow of voters at each polling process to avoid person-to-person contact and allow time for sanitisation of any equipment,” Mujoro said at the time.
Additionally, Mujoro said, the ECN will consider eliminating any step that might lead to unnecessary touching of objects.
“Multiple-person seating, especially benches and side-by-side chairs, will be removed, and polling places will have few unnecessary objects and surfaces as possible,” he added.
“The wearing of a face mask will be mandatory for all persons coming to register as voters and to all voters, including all electoral officials.”