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”.
It further states that the machines facilitate quick and accurate counting and election results can be declared “on the same day, at the end of the poll”.
“The voting data stored in EVMs can be retained for years and can be extracted if necessary,” the ECN says in the manual in what appears to be a step ahead of the risky storage of election materials currently done at the Government Garage.
The ruling party Swapo, which faces an onslaught of nine opposition parties that claim its victory of the 2009 elections was flawed, welcomed the latest voting technology. “We are moving into the IT (information technology) revolution and this is therefore a welcome move,” says the party’s Secretary-General, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana.
But Iivula-Ithana, just like Swanu President Usutuaije Maamberua, maintained that a lot of effort must be pumped into educating voters and the training of electoral officials on how to use the machines.
“I don’t know if we are ready to migrate into the new era of conducting elections. The ECN must lead the revolution,” Iivula-Ithana said.
DTA President Katuutire Kaura, who formed part of the parliamentary delegation that visited India in 2009 to specifically view how the EVMs work, was equally impressed.
“We will not go to courts anymore because results would show immediately after voting,” the DTA leader, one of the litigants in the ongoing election case, said.
“These machines would eliminate all incidences of possible irregularities,” an optimistic Kaura opined.
There are Doubting Thomases though and among these are CoD spokesperson Natjirikasorua Tjirera, who said the nation should only jump in joy once it is proven that the machines are not prone to manipulation.
“We need to ensure that the possibilities of manipulating the machines are non-existent,” Tjirera, who retired from active politics in protest at the opposition’s continued pursuit of the election case, said.
But it is the general technological lapses than possibilities of manipulation that fuels Maamberua’s skepticism.
“It is a step in the right direction,” the Swanu leader said.
“But technology has its shortcomings as was witnessed at Sony, a global technology player.”
Full Article: New Era.