Somaliland: “Swerves on the Road” Part 6: Assessment of Election Day

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Excerpt VI Assessment of Election Day

 A polling staff checks a voters fingers for ink to see if he has already voted

Somalilandsun – The International Election Observer-IOE Mission to the 2012 local council elections released its final report titled “Swerves on the Road” contained in 40 pages herein published chapter by chapter on a daily basis with a link for those readers interested in reading earlier excerpts or downloading the entire report.

Excerpt I Introduction

Excerpt II Previous election observation & Local council elections 2012

Excerpt III The international election observation mission

Excerpt IV An election observer’s experience: a personal reflection

Excerpt V The media

Assessment of Election Day

Election day was mostly peaceful, and was marked by high and enthusiastic turnout from voters across the country, many of whom queued for hours to cast their ballots. The process was generally conducted with a high degree of transparency and accuracy. Polling station staff, mostly comprised of young people, worked with dedication and commitment to complete the necessary technical and logistical steps required by electoral regulations, and our interim report to the NEC commended them for their efforts, often under difficult circumstances.

However, despite the generally positive environment in which the election took place, there were problems that weakened the process. Chief amongst these was the failure of safeguards designed to prevent multiple voting, which appears to have been widespread. While the NEC is not responsible for the political decision in advance of these elections to abandon the voter register used in 2010, the technical election day safeguards put in place – primarily the indelible ink applied to voters’ fingers – proved insufficient. The ease with which indelible ink was removed may have permitted a substantial number of voters to cast multiple ballots, potentially reducing the integrity of results. However, observers did note numerous instances in which polling station staff rejected apparent attempts by individuals to vote more than once. Regrettably, though, the ability of voters to vote at any polling station also complicated this aspect of scrutiny, meaning that, while the efforts of polling station staff were commended by IEOs in many locations, they are unlikely to have been sufficient to address multiple voting on the scale observed.

Vigilance against multiple votingEven discounting apparent multiple voting, real turnout appears to have been higher than in past elections. This did cause a number of complications, including the exhaustion of ballot papers before the close of polling in some areas, as well as very full ballot boxes that could not always hold all ballots cast. While efforts were made to replenish papers, these did not always arrive in time to permit voting to resume. Similarly, while IEOs observed efforts by staff to maintain the integrity of ballots where boxes were too full to accommodate any more, the need to use alternative storage options (envelopes, plastic bags, separate piles, breaking seals to pack ballot papers down, etc) also inevitably held the potential to compromise the process. IEOs did not observe instances in which this led to deliberate tampering with votes, but the situation was nevertheless less than ideal.

While the full report shall be published chapter by chapter on a daily basis interested readers can down load the full report “SWERVES ON THE ROAD” AS SOMALILAND CONTINUES TO DRIVE ITS DEVELOPING DEMOCRACY FORWARD here

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