The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has confirmed it will use the manual ballot papers in the upcoming regional council and local authority elections, saying the electoral body would not be in a position to afford voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) devices to allow for electronic voting. According to the ECN, the situation is exacerbated by the global Covid-19 pandemic. Briefing the media last week, ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja said they have taken note of the views expressed by a sizeable portion of stakeholders against the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) without the VVPAT or paper trail – a matter that was the bone of contention in a Supreme Court case. “We also wish to note that the cost of acquiring the VVPAT devices, including development of prototype, customisation, shipment and operator training and voter education, is estimated at N$132 927 642,” she said. Furthermore, Tjipueja said, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced both private and public sector organisations to change and re-engineer business processes. “Operating and voting by use of EVMs involves substantial touching of equipment both during the first level check, candidate setting as well as the actual casting of votes,” she said.
The Supreme Court will on 17 January hear arguments on the electoral challenge through which independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula and four others are trying to get a rerun of Namibia’s presidential election. Supreme Court judge Dave Smuts today presided over a case management hearing with the various parties to the case to establish a timeline for the filing of court papers and to determine the date of the final hearing. Itula and the other four applicants are basing their attack on the conduct of the presidential election on the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s decision to make use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), and are arguing that the Electoral Act required that the ECN could make use only of EVMs accompanied by a verifiable paper trail.
Faulty machines caused delays as voting got underway Wednesday in Namibia’s general election that is set to hand President Hage Geingob a second term and extend the almost 30-year rule of the South West Africa People’s Organization even as the economy flags. Voting came to a standstill at a polling station on the outskirts of the capital, Windhoek, after it ran out of forms. A WhatsApp message group created for journalists by the Electoral Commission of Namibia, reported malfunctioning electronic voting machines at various stations, including one in Windhoek. Geingob said he was confident of another victory. “I campaigned like hell,” he told told reporters after casting his vote. “If I lose I will accept it. I am a democrat.” After securing 87% of the presidential ballot in 2014 and the ruling party garnering 80% support in the parliamentary vote, neither are realistically at risk of losing their majority, even if their margins of victory may narrow.
A Namibian court dismissed a case on Monday aimed at preventing the use of electronic voting machines in its presidential election, which opponents of President Hage Geingob fear could be used to rig the result. Namibians will elect a president on Wednesday, with Geingob expected to be win with a reduced margin owing to voter anger over the worst economic crisis since independence from apartheid South Africa three decades ago. The use of voting machines has been controversial both within and outside Africa. Critics say they make it easier to fiddle the result than traditional pen and paper ballots. However, Magistrate Uaatjo Uanivi ruled that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to forbid the electoral commission from using them. Opposition leader McHenry Venaani told reporters he was disappointed with the ruling. “EVMs (electronic voting machines) in their current form do not address the question of transparency of the vote and I thought the court would put more effort into addressing (that) … question,” he said.
More than 100 protesters on Saturday took to the streets of Windhoek to vent their frustrations and anger around the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) at the upcoming presidential and National Assembly elections. The protestors started their demonstration in the Havana informal settlement on the outskirts of Windhoek, and headed to the head office of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), where they were expected to hand over their petition to the commission’s chief electoral and referenda officer, Theo Mujoro. Mujoro did not show up on the day to receive the petition. “I don’t take instructions from the Namibian Police. I read about the intention of people to march on social media. Nobody has written to me as the chief electoral officer or the commission about the planned march. So, I had no obligation to receive anything from anybody,” Mujoro told Nampa on Saturday.
Recent reports that a number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) were missing from the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) have sparked massive public criticism, with some people questioning the integrity of the election body in the run-up to next month’s presidential and National Assembly elections. Some political commentators and legal experts have accused the electoral commission of concealing information regarding the disappearance of the EVMs, while others called for the arrest of people responsible for the missing EVMs. The Namibian reported last week that the Namibian Police were investigating a case involving the disappearance of three EVMs from the ECN. The ECN issued a statement on Sunday, explaining that the missing EVMs were rented out to the ruling Swapo Party to conduct an internal election for the party’s Elders’ Council in 2017. The commission, however, remains tight-lipped about the issue, saying it could not publicly pronounce itself on the matter due to “concerns of compromising the investigation process, as the police are working to trace the EVMs that had gone missing.”
The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has postponed the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) hacking challenge that was scheduled to take place later today. Vikitoria Hango, Corporate Communications Officer of the Electoral Commission of Namibia said the event is called off following a communication from majority of members of the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PLC) who requested the ECN to postpone the EVM hacking challenge date to allow political parties’ sufficient time to prepare for the session. Hango said the political parties have raised a number of concerns with regard to the credibility and integrity of the EVM both to the Commission and various communication platforms such as newspapers and social media. Political parties allege that the EVMs can be hacked to store results other than the choice of voters and that it can be tampered with to favour a particular candidate or political party by altering the results stored in the EVMs after the polls.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia will hold a public event where technicians will test the electronic voting machines (EVMs) for possible defects. ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja told a media event in Windhoek yesterday that the commission has received numerous requests from political parties and a parliamentary standing committee to investigate whether the EVMs can be hacked. She said the public testing of the EVMs will be held on 18 July 2019, and the commission will use information technology (IT) students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology to test the machines. The ECN boss said political parties will also be allowed to bring their own technicians to confirm “any allegations they might have with regards to the EVMs”.
The Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), who failed to secure a single seat in last year’s National Assembly and Presidential elections, say they are ready for the upcoming regional and local authority elections slated for November. The NEFF has qualms though with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to be used without paper trails. The Director of Elections, Professor Paul Isaak, was quoted last week saying the upcoming elections would be conducted without a voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT). “We have this doubt about the EVMs without paper trials. I don’t know whether Swapo is the enemy of democracy or what. You cannot force people to use something that is not verifiable and claim to have everything free and fair,” NEFF National Coordinator Kalimbo Iipumbu said on Monday.
Presidential polls in Namibia have incumbent prime minister Hage Geigob of the ruling SWAPO party leading with 84 percent of the roughly 10 percent of votes officially released so far but the new electronic polling gizmos are leaving some Namibians skeptical. Some 1.2 million people are expected to cast their votes electronically in the country’s fifth election since independence. It will be the first use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) on the African continent. Voters will select presidential and parliamentary candidates directly on the EVMs—slabs of green and white plastic with the names and images of candidates and their party affiliation—that make a loud beep after each vote. The voting modules will not be connected externally to any sources to prevent tampering, and the commission hopes electronic voting will reduce lines and speed up counting. But according to local media reports, results have been trickling in at a snail’s pace at the election centre in the capital Windhoek, worrying the ruling party.
Presidential polls in Namibia have incumbent prime minister Hage Geigob of the ruling SWAPO party leading with 84 percent of the roughly 10 percent of votes officially released so far but the new electronic polling gizmos are leaving some Namibians skeptical. Some 1.2 million people are expected to cast their votes electronically in the country’s fifth election since independence. It will be the first use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) on the African continent. Voters will select presidential and parliamentary candidates directly on the EVMs – slabs of green and white plastic with the names and images of candidates and their party affiliation – that make a loud beep after each vote. The voting modules will not be connected externally to any sources to prevent tampering, and the commission hopes electronic voting will reduce lines and speed up counting. But according to local media reports, results have been trickling in at a snail’s pace at the election centre in the capital Windhoek, worrying the ruling party.
The two Indian experts, who were in the country from Bangalore, Krishna Kumar and Sreenivasa Rao, said any delay in election results, was not because of the machines. “Any election is a long process.Whatever delay there is, has nothing to do with the EVMs,” Kumar said, during an interview with The Namibian at the ECN headquarters on Monday. Opposition parties, including the Workers Revolutionary Party, the Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters and Nudo, blamed the election mishaps on the EVMs, including the delay in the announcement of the Presidential and National Assembly results, which they claimed were being “cooked and manipulated behind closed doors” using the machines. “They are cooking and stirring a pot inside there. EVMs were pre-programmed to give a pre-determined election result in favour of the ruling party (Swapo),” human-rights activist and labour consultant August Maletzky said as he commented on the delay in announcing the results on Monday. But the Indians insist the machines cannot be pre-programmed. “The electronic voting machine is a stand-alone equipment which cannot be connected to an electronic device such as Bluetooth and cannot be manipulated. Once programmed, it cannot be altered,” explains Rao, who is the senior assistant engineer at Bharat. He says the device has been programmed only once during its manufacturing and therefore cannot be re-programmed as some people allege. The experts say back in India, the EVMs have also stirred up debate and received a lot of criticism from opposition parties since they were introduced in the country’s elections in 2000, but said all those disputes have come to naught.
Namibia: SWAPO ahead in Namibia election count after Africa′s first electronic poll | Deutsche Welle
Reports from Namibia on Monday said the ruling South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) party was leading in preliminary results. It was credited with having taken 77 percent of Friday’s poll — based on returns from about ten percent of 121 constituencies. Turnout was put at 69 percent of the 1.2 million Namibians eligible to vote, according to official figures. Opposition parties claimed thousands of voters were turned away from polling stations because of technical difficulties. Results from Africa’s first ever electronic vote were still being verified on Monday. Theo Mujoro, director of operations for the Electoral Commission of Namibia, said the commission had found mathematical errors in the results from some constituencies. “The problem primarily is that, from the returns that we received from some of the constituencies, we have detected some mathematical errors and what we have been doing is that we are contacting the returning officers so that they may provide us with the sole document for us to be able to ascertain for ourselves and to effect the necessary corrections,” Mujoro said. He had previously said results would be available within 24 hours of voting.
Hundreds of thousands of Namibian voters joined long queues when voting started on Friday from seven o’clock in the morning but were slowed by technical problems ineptly handled by nervous-looking polling officials. Officially polling was supposed to start at 07h00 and close at 21h00 for the over 1.2 million registered voters among them first-time voters or so-called ‘born frees’ but at some polling stations voters only cast their votes on Saturday morning at around 03h00. The ‘born free’ generation comprising of people born after Namibia’s independence in 1990 constituted 20 percent of the over 1.2 million registered voters across Namibia. Voting was expected to start in the morning at 7:00 but some of the polling stations could not start on time because of glitches with some of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) being used for the first time in any African presidential and parliamentary elections. By early Friday morning hordes of Namibians could be seen congregating at the polling station at Dagbreek Special School in Klein Windhoek. But by 08:45 some of these potential voters among them senior officials left the polling station in frustration because the EVMs were not working at the polling station. Other potential voters could be seen still milling around. One of the potential voters said he had heard that at least five other nearby polling stations had similar problems.
Namibians voting in their presidential election will become the first in Africa to use electronic voting. It has been 25 years since Namibia’s first democratic elections, and for the first time 1.2 million people are expected to cast their votes electronically in the country’s fifth election since independence. “The decision to consider acquiring electronic voting machines was primarily based on some challenges and experiences that we have had in the manner and way we manage our elections,” the electoral commission’s Theo Mujoro told China’s CCTV. The voters will cast their ballots for presidential and parliamentary candidates on separate machines, chunky slabs of green and white plastic with the names and images of candidates and their party affiliation that make a loud beep after each vote. “The younger people get it first time, but the older ones you have to explain a little,” said presiding officer Hertha Erastus.
Voting began Friday in Namibia’s presidential and legislative elections, in an election that is expected to see the ruling SWAPO party retain power in the country it has run since independence 24 years ago. Voters at Katutura township, outside the capital Windhoek, formed long lines before daybreak, including some first-time “born free” voters – those born after independence in 1990. “It’s a rich country with poor people, so I hope there is more balance,” said 43-year-old Elias while waiting to cast his vote. Although he expects the ruling South West People’s Organisation (SWAPO) to win, he wants to see a more opposition parliamentarians challenge the long-party’s 24 year grip on power. Polls opened at 7am local time and will close around 14 hours later in the latest closing stations.
Namibia is to become the first African country to use electronic voting machines in a general election, after the Windhoek high court dismissed a legal challenge by an opposition political party. The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) filed an urgent court application to seek the annulment and postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for this Friday, arguing that the machines violate Namibia’s newly amended Electoral Act because they leave no paper trail. The party was joined in its high court application by the African Labour and Human Rights Centre’s director August Maletzky and the Workers Revolutionary Party. But on Wednesday the high court rejected the claims that the use of the e-voting machines was unconstitutional and a breach of the Electoral Act. The Act stipulates that use of the machines in polling should be “subject to the simultaneous utilisation of a verifiable paper trail for every vote cast by a voter and any vote cast is verified by account of the paper trail”. It continues: “In the event that the results of the voting machines and the results of the paper trail do not tally, the paper trail results are accepted as the election outcome for the polling station or voting thread concerned.”
Namibia will vote in Africa’s first electronic ballot Friday, a general election that will usher in a new president and quotas to put more women in government. Opposition parties had launched an 11th-hour challenge to the use of the Indian-made e-voting machines, claiming the lack of a paper trail could open the door to vote rigging. But the Windhoek High Court dismissed the application on Wednesday, leaving the door open for the election to go ahead as planned. Namibians will choose 96 members of the national assembly and one of nine presidential candidates, ranging from the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters to the white minority Republican Party. Around 1.2 million Namibians are eligible to cast their ballots at nearly 4,000 electronic voting stations across the vast desert nation. But there is only one likely winner. Current Prime Minister Hage Geingob of the ruling SWAPO party has run on a platform of “peace, stability and prosperity” and is sure to become the new president.
Three opposition parties brought an urgent application before the Windhoek High Court on Tuesday requesting it to postpone Friday’s parliamentary and presidential elections. “We ask the court to direct the electoral commission to stop the use of electronic voting machines [EVMs] as they do not produce a verifiable paper trail for every vote cast by the voter,” the first applicant, August Maletzky, asked Judge Kobus Miller. “We further ask the court to declare a section of the recently promulgated new elections act, which allows to suspend certain clauses of the new act and to direct the commission to conduct free and fair elections in February 2015,” Maletzky added. Elections are slated for this coming Friday, when 1.24 million eligible voters will elect a new government.
Namibia’s election commission says preparations for next week’s national elections are going well as the country becomes the first in Africa to use electronic voting machines. “We will deploy 2080 teams to the 121 constitutions in the 14 regions of the country to operate 1255 fixed and 2711 mobile polling stations,” electoral body chair Notemba Tjipueja told reporters on Thursday. There are 1 241 194 eligible voters on the final voter’s roll. Namibia has a population of 2.1 million. Parliamentary and presidential elections will take place on Friday, 28 November. It will be the first time the country votes in one single day. During the previous five elections two days were set aside for voting, which opposition parties criticised.
In a first for Africa, Namibians will cast their ballots electronically in this month’s presidential and legislative polls, the election commission said Friday. Over 1 million voters, or just about half of the nation’s 2.3 million people, are due to vote on November 28. “I think it’s a big achievement for Namibia and the African continent at large,” Nontemba Tjipueja, chairwoman of the Electoral Commission of Namibia told AFP. She said the voting machines, imported from India, will help improve accuracy, speed up counting, eliminate human interference and cut down on spoiled ballots. “Results will come through the same day just after the closing of the polls,” she said, adding that final results will be announced within 24 hours.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia yesterday backtracked on an announcement that only voters registered at Namibia’s foreign missions would be allowed to cast their votes at polling stations outside the country on Friday next week. In a media statement issued yesterday, ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja denied that the ECN had taken a decision to exclude any registered voters outside Namibia from exercising their right to vote at the country’s foreign missions. “It is, and always was, the Commission’s point of view that all registered voters in possession of a valid voters’ registration card be allowed to vote in terms of Section 98 of the Electoral Act,” Tjipueja stated.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has moved to allay fears of vote rigging and corruption after opposition parties raised alarm about the use of electronic voting machines without a paper trail. Namibians are set to go to the polls in November to elect the country’s third democratically elected president as well as members of the National Assembly. The November plebiscite will for the first time make use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) that were purchased from India, but the absence of a paper trail to be used in conjunction with the voting machines has seen members of the opposition crying foul. Despite the use of the voting machines in regional by elections held recently that were declared free and fair, the opposition feel that the absence of a verifiable paper trial will see results of the November election being manipulated in favor of the ruling party South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO).
Prime Minister Hage Geingob yesterday asked the electoral commission whether the electronic voting machines are reliable if there are still questions about the paper trail option. The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) paid a courtesy call on Geingob to explain and clarify to him the use of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) Geingob said there are questions being asked and requested that the ECN should provide comprehensive answers. “If the machines are so good, why do we still have the option of a paper trail?” Some political parties have questioned the voting machines’ reliability, saying there is a possibility for the machines to be tampered with or pre-programmed to favour a certain political party.
Two months before Namibians head to the polls, the Electoral Commission of Namibia has only half of the electronic voting machines required to hold successful elections. The Namibian reported in May this year that the ECN had planned to purchase 3 500 additional EVMs for the national and presidential elections at the cost of N$30 million, in order to supplement the current 3 500 EVMs. However, this has not happened. ECN director of operations Theo Mujoro yesterday said they are aware that the current number of machines would not be sufficient to cover the elections and therefore there is a need to purchase more. “The machines will be available by mid-October to supplement the current number that is in our possession, “ said Mujoro. He added that for each polling station, there will be two ballot units connected to a control unit which allows the voter to cast their vote like in a ballot election and in this way to replicate the manual election process. The EVM consists of a ballot unit, a control unit and a tabulator with printers.
Namibia: Implementing Biometric-Based Systems – Researchers Challenge Electronic Voting | allAfrica.com
In line with last week’s article “Implementing Biometrics based Systems: Electronic Voting Selection Criteria”, we continue our focus on electronic voting, known as e-voting, to be held in Namibia. In addition, the Biometric Research Laboratory, BRL, at Namibia Biometric System will answer some of the questions received in last week’s article. However, researcher at BRL and worldwide have been keen to get access to e-voting machine and independently assess the merits of the machines. Researchers at BRL would like to highlight some of the latest findings on e-voting machines conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan. Recently in May 2014, researchers at the University of Michigan said they have developed a technique to hack into the Indian electronic voting machines. University of Michigan researchers were able to change results by sending text messages from a mobile.
Opposition parties are sceptical over the new electronic voting system to be used in the presidential and parliamentary elections in November. Some of the opposition say the electronic voting machines (EVMs) should not be used because they were not previously tested in Namibia and the electorate have not been educated on them, while others propose the ballot and electronic systems be used together. E-voting is a term encompassing several different types of voting, embracing the electronic means of casting a vote, storing the voting record in some database and electronically counting the votes. In interviews on Monday,some parties decried the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s plans to introduce the new system, while others claim the new system can be the panacea for smooth elections if some of the nitty-gritties are addressed.
Namibia is planning to use a biometric voter registration system for its upcoming election and the country’s electoral commission has just launched the machine it will be using to enroll voters. According to a report in The Namibian, the machines were manufactured in South Africa, and consist of a laptop, fingerprint scanner, camera and signature and barcode scanner. Voter registration starts on January 15 and ends on March 2 next year. Altogether there are 904 machines as well as generators and back-up kits for emergencies.
The Electoral Commission in Namibia (ECN) has proven to be a farce in the last ten years judging from allegations and counter allegations of vote rigging, including ballot stuffing. At the centre of the controversial ECN is the credibility of the commissioners, who are bipartisan and biased in favour of the ruling class.
The recent Informanté exposé of a commissioner appointed with fake qualifications, but who even made if to the shortlist of the successful candidates, served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. An investigation points to a deliberate endeavor to have a commissioner who could be bought and sold, with an appropriate profile, to collaborate in one way of the other to sway the election results in favour of the powers that be.
There seems to be general consensus on both sides of the country’s political divide about the introduction of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN). The ECN announced on Friday the purchase of EVMs to the tune of about N$22 million from India, to all but kick off a new era of voting in the country.
The sometimes-mediocre conduct of elections, as pointed out by Judge President Petrus Damaseb in his electoral judgment earlier this year, could be a thing of the past with the introduction of this new technology. And all parties that New Era spoke to yesterday agreed in unison that with EVMs in place, whoever cries foul after elections could be rightly dubbed a “crybaby”.
According to the manual published by the ECN about how the EVMs work, “there is no scope for invalid votes”, while “total secrecy of voting data is maintained”.