ONGWEDIVA – The Ohangwena region experienced a low voter turnout at many of its polling stations, Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) regional coordinator Hiskia Mukete said yesterday. “The election process is going very well in the region, but the queues are relatively low so far,” said Mukete.
A total of 129 472 voters are registered in the region. In 2015, there were 128 833 voters registered of whom only 62 616 showed up to cast their vote. Low voter turnout was also experienced at Evatelo polling station where only less than 30 people were waiting to cast their vote when New Era visited the fixed polling station. The presiding officer at Evatelo, Rachel Nanghama, said the turnout had been low since the morning.
At Endola Junior Primary School polling station, there were no people queueing up by lunchtime. Presiding officer Laina Hamunyela said the centre was full in the morning, however, the number started declining around 11h00.
“We have assisted more than 270 voters, however after the first batch, the numbers started declining,” said Hamunyela.
Mukete said there were no major challenges reported in Ohangwena, with the exception of voters who turned up to vote at constituencies where they were not registered to vote. In Oshana, the ECN regional coordinator Efraim Iyambo also said voting started relatively well in the region, with most of the polling stations opening at 07h00. Many voters at polling stations within Ongwediva and Oshakati arrived as early as 03h00. Iyambo said one of the concerns raised in the region was the fear that the ballot boxes would get full too fast.
However, Iyambo said that a single ballot box can take up to 2 000 ballot papers.
“It is almost impossible for a ballot box to get full, however in an event where it does, voters can always go to the next centre,” said Iyambo. A concern raised in Ongwediva was by youthful voters who bemoaned that senior citizens were being favoured at polling stations as they were given preference to vote first. The presiding officer at Omatando, Gideon Shiimi, said the same issue was raised at his centre. To alleviate the problem, Shiimi said two lines were formed and the voters were given the chance to cast their vote on a 60:40 ratio with the senior citizens making up the 60%.
Although some voters opined that the system was slow, many voters were happy with the voting process, saying it was fast compared to previous years.