Preparing for elections
November 4, 2000
Have you checked the Preliminary Voters List? If not, you should do so as soon as possible by going to the Registration Office nearest to where you live. If you are not sure where this is ring the Elections Commission for advice (02-61255 or 6l073). If you are a new voter, the staff will help you to apply to have your name put on the list. You can then go to the photographic centre (they will tell you where this is) to have your photograph taken so your new Identification Card can be prepared. You will be told when to uplift this.
If you have changed your address since the last elections you should still go to the office nearest to your present residence. The staff will help you to have your name transferred to the list in the area where you now live. You can then have your photograph taken. If you have changed your name or any personal details you should again go to the registration office nearest to your residence and the staff will help you make the changes.
The bottom line, as the Chairman of the Elections Commission Major General (rtd) Joe Singh has stressed so often, is that whether you voted at the last elections or not you must check the lists and have your photograph taken so the new Identification Card can be prepared and issued to you. You will be notified later when to pick this up. Without this card, you cannot vote on polling day.
There have been some complaints about delays at registration offices, a shortage of cameras and even unhelpful staff. There will always be variations in the quality of personnel, but voting is a civic duty and citizens should be prepared to put up with some inconvenience to put themselves in order. Reports indicate that in most cases the procedures have been reasonably streamlined and effective, though when cameras have not been available at a particular time people have been asked to return.
The decision by the Elections Commission that only those having a new ID card can vote was a good one. It will eliminate any doubts about allegedly padded lists as the final lists will only have the names of those holding new ID cards. The closing date for making claims to be added as a new voter and for photographs to be taken is next week Sunday, November l2. It is incumbent on those who have not yet checked the lists and had their photographs taken to do so by that time. It is also incumbent on the political parties to get their supporters out. Complaints later will have no credibility.
Once the final lists are prepared and posted up and voters have received their ID cards the key remaining task for the Commission is to have efficient polling procedures on voting day and a procedure for announcing results as soon as possible after the close of poll, usually 6.00 pm. The personnel at polling stations can easily count their votes by 7.00 pm. The parties are entitled to have their scrutineers at each station to witness the voting and the count. The Commission must plan carefully to get the boxes and the statements of poll expeditiously to the main office. By 2.00 am, judged by the experience of l964, when the elections were efficiently run it should be possible for analysts to project a result as is traditional in democratic countries everywhere, though all the results may not yet have come in, particularly from stations in the interior.
The emphasis must be on careful planning, training and efficiency. As soon as the electoral system has been finalised, training can get in full swing. Despite our electoral past which still casts a bit of a cloud we can surely show that we're still capable of running efficient elections.
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