Election ballots in the Democratic Republic of the Congo can look more like the weekend edition of a newspaper than the single folded sheet of paper common the United States. Congolese electoral laws allow a nearly unlimited number of candidates to run for parliament. In the coming election, now pushed to 2019, there may be as many as 28,000 candidates, each one with their name and photo printed in a ballot. The expense and logistical difficulties of printing and distributing 45 million of these massive ballots are nearly insurmountable. After they’re printed, ballots must be trucked or flown to 126,000 polling stations around the country. The electoral commission has yet to acquire the necessary funds, and the voter registry isn’t complete. Or at least, these are some of the official reasons given for why Congo will not be holding elections for another year and a half, according to a source familiar with the election process who requested not to be named.
“In 2006, we got huge support from the [United Nations]. We used 108 aircraft supported by the U.N. But today there is none,” the source told Foreign Policy in an interview in Washington, D.C. “The budget is around $600 million. Who is going to fund [this]?”
Presidential and parliamentary elections were scheduled for December 2016, but those were delayed, with President Joseph Kabila and the opposition coming to an agreement that elections would be held in 2017. Even with the agreement, the election delay has threatened a political crisis in the young Central African republic.