The Maldives electoral body announced there are to be ballot boxes in 28 additional resorts for local workers in this year’s presidential poll, increasing the number to 35.
The move came after the Elections Commission walked back its decision to cut down ballot boxes on resort islands by 87 percent from the previous election in 2013.
It said Thursday night that ballot boxes would be on 35 resorts, but only if more than 100 Maldivians who work on those resorts register to vote there.
Former attorney general Husnu Al Suood threatened the EC with legal action over the decision to limit resort ballot boxes.
“Even if they [resort workers] are not completely disenfranchised, this creates a lot of issues,” Suood told the Maldives Independent last week. “It puts a lot of obstacles in place for Maldivian resort workers in exercising their right to vote.”
There are 27,837 Maldivians working in resorts, representing around 14 percent of the total workforce, according to the last census.
In the previous presidential election, ballot boxes were kept in around 55 resorts.
There was outrage regarding the EC’s initial decision on ballot boxes and even the ruling party joined in the condemnation, albeit belatedly.
The 35 resorts with ballot boxes are: JA Manafaru, Haa Alifu atoll; Cheval Blanc Randheli, The Sun Siyam Irufushi Maldives*, Noonu atoll; Kudafushi Resort and Spa, Raa atoll; Anantara Kihavah, Vakkaru Maldives, Milaidhoo Maldives, Royal Island Resort and Spa, Baa atoll; Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives, Cocoon Maldives, Kanuhuraa, Kurehdhoo Island Resort and Spa*, Lhaviyani atoll; Kurumba Maldives, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa, Gililankanfushi; Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives, Huvafenfushi Resort and Spa, Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi, Vellassaru Maldives, Coco Bodu Hithi, Baros Maldives, Club Med Kanifinolhu, Grand Park Kohdhipparu Maldives, Ozen by Atmosphere at Maadhoo, One and Only Reethi Rah, Bandos Maldives*, Paradise Island Resort*, Kaafu atoll; Constance Halaveli Maldives, Kuramathi Island Resort*; Alifu Alifu atoll; Lux South Ari Atoll Maldives, Holiday Island Resort and Spa, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island*, Sun Island Resort*, Alifu Dhaalu atoll; Niyaama Maldives, Dhaalu atoll; Amaari Hovaddaa Maldives, Gaafu Dhaalu atoll.
*indicates one of the original seven designated resorts with ballot boxes.
Photo: Royal Island Resort & Spa