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IPPR wades into electoral reform debate

Think tank, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has jumped on the electoral reform bandwagon calling for an urgent review of the Electoral Act.
In its submission to the Law Reform and Development Commission’s Electoral Law
Reform Project (February/March 2012), IPPR says the Electoral Act should be urgently reviewed and reformed following extensive consultation with stakeholders well ahead of the next national elections scheduled for November 2014.
IPPR says the voters register needs to be cleaned as it has been in disarray for a number of years. “The voters register has been in disarray for several years and the state of the register has featured prominently in two electoral challenges over the last decade. Namibia makes use, according to the Electoral Act, of two lists – one constituency voters’ list and the other a local voters’ list. It is recommended that just one voters roll should be produced which is closely linked to a national population register. “Furthermore, the voters roll should be continually subjected to inspection and clean-up in order to ensure accuracy. Effective cooperation with the Ministry of Home Affairs vis-a-vis the national population register is vital,” IPPR says. The think tank adds that the tendered vote should be abolished as it has contributed to both confusion and suspicion concerning electoral practices. The system as it stands, IPPR says, makes no provision for the reconciliation of votes to their home constituencies and thus raises questions about the veracity of results gained with this vote. IPPR further says citizens should be encouraged to register and vote in the settlements where they are living and working. In addition, a public holiday on the day before the election could be considered to allow citizens to travel to the constituency where they are registered for polling day. Alternatively, voting could take place on a Sunday.
IPPR also criticises the length of the voting period and use of mobile polling stations: “Electoral authorities and government have come in for considerable criticism over the years over the use of two days for voting during national elections. The criticism has been that leaving ballot boxes standing overnight in far-flung rural areas creates the conditions for irregularities to take place. Critics point to the fact that a country with a population of two million should not be taking two days to cast a vote.
“In addition, the use of several hundred mobile polling stations at national elections should be reviewed. Mobile polling stations can present risks in terms of safeguarding the integrity of the ballot boxes, while it is also difficult for observers and party agents to monitor what happens at such stations. As a result, mobile polling stations should only be used in the areas of greatest need.” IPPR says the last two national elections have seen a week pass between the closing of the polls and the announcement of results, a situation which has raised eyebrows and allegations of vote rigging.

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