The Elections Commission has dismissed concerns about the voting process in the September 23 presidential election.
Opposition MP Ahmed Mahloof tweeted photos purportedly from a powerpoint presentation used to train officials, which instructed them to first enter results into a tablet and send it to the EC headquarters in the capital before the results are announced at individual polling stations.
EC member Ahmed Akram dismissed concerns that the tablets could be used to falsify results.
“There is no change in how the results will be announced,” he told the Maldives Independent. “This is not just something I am saying, this is written in the law as well. The work that EC officials do on an administrative level is different.”
In the face of the opposition’s allegations of collusion and fraud to favour the incumbent, the five-member electoral commission has maintained that voting would be exactly the same as in previous elections.
As required by law, ballot papers would be counted in front of observers and candidate representatives and the tally would be announced at each polling station, EC chief Ahmed Shareef repeatedly assured at press briefings.
Akram also dismissed opposition concerns about the refusal to provide copies of voter lists signed by both camps.
“If the final voter list is kept secret — as the Elections Commission appears keen to do so — then bogus voters can turn up to the poll and easily cast a fraudulent vote,” the opposition coalition said in a statement Thursday.
Akram said the final list is publicly available.
“Right after publishing the final voter’s list in the gazette, the Elections Commission has sent a copy of the published list to both candidates. The public will also have a copy of the final voter’s list as it has been published in the gazette,” he said.
He denied that it was the practice in the past to share a copy of the signed lists to be used at polling stations.
“With regards to the signed lists, those lists have never been shared with candidates. The signed lists are the lists that will be put up outside every polling station,” Akram said.
Akram appealed against sharing “false information” that could cast doubt on the integrity of the election.
The September 23 poll is the first multi-party presidential election in the Maldives where the winner will be decided in the first round.
Some 262,135 people are eligible to vote.
At an opposition rally Friday night on Hinnavaru island, the Maldivian Democratic Party deputy chairman warned that voting could be disrupted to declare a state of emergency.
The opposition would win with a comfortable majority as more than 170,000 votes have been secured, Ali Niyaz said, urging supporters to be wary of schemes to rig the vote.
One plan the opposition has learned of involves using wrong lists at polling stations to anger voters and incite unrest, he said, which would be used a pretext to declare a state of emergency. Parliament would then convene and decide to prolong the incumbent’s term beyond November 17.
The second possibility is the EC declaring false results that do not tally with those announced at individual polling stations, he speculated, which would also trigger unrest.
Photo of polling station by Mihaaru