Call for con­tin­u­ous voter reg­is­tra­tion

Sunday Express - - NEWS -

CiViL So­ci­ety Or­gan­i­sa­tions (CSOs) have called for a con­tin­u­ous voter reg­is­tra­tion ex­er­cise to en­able the elec­torate to ex­er­cise their right to vote. The Le­sotho Coun­cil of non-gov­ern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tions (LCn), Trans­for­ma­tion Re­source Cen­tre (TRC) and the Cam­paign for Ed­u­ca­tion Fo­rum (CEF) made the call in a joint state­ment which was re­leased in Maseru in the af­ter­math of the re­cent lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

They said it was en­cour­ag­ing to see that the “elec­tions were highly con­tested by po­lit­i­cal par­ties and in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates, un­like in the pre­vi­ous polls, which in­di­cates that more peo­ple are get­ting in­ter­ested in the elec­tion in­clud­ing young peo­ple”.

They how­ever, noted that, “there had been in­stances where a num­ber of vot­ers’ rolls (old and new) were used dur­ing polling in an ef­fort to rem­edy the per­sis­tent gaps in the fi­nal vot­ers’ rolls”.

“This sit­u­a­tion calls for se­ri­ous re­vamp­ing of the vot­ers’ roll in or­der to al­low every voter an op­por­tu­nity to ex­er­cise their right to vote.”

They also blamed the in­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (iEC) for what they said was low voter turn-out.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions have al­ways been sig­ni­fied by a low voter turnout. These elec­tions were no ex­cep­tion and this can be at­trib­uted to a num­ber of fac­tors such as non-pro­vi­sion for ad­vance vot­ing as is usu­ally done in the gen­eral elec­tions.

“Most of the iEC staff were de­ployed in vot­ing sta­tions away from those they were reg­is­tered in and this meant that they were de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to cast their votes,” part of the state­ment reads.

The CSOs also said the low turnout could also be at­trib­uted to the fact that many busi­nesses opened on the day of polling, thus deny­ing some vot­ers the op­por­tu­nity to vote.

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties were not spared as they were ac­cused of show­ing “very lit­tle com­mit­ment” to per­suad­ing their sup­port­ers to vote.

The CSOs fur­ther noted the fail­ure to pro­vide spe­cial fa­cil­i­ties for dis­abled peo­ple to en­able them to ex­er­cise their vot­ing rights with­out be­ing com­pro­mised.

“One of the foun­da­tional pil­lars of demo­cratic elec­tions is that they must they must be in­clu­sive and re­spon­sive to the needs of the dis­abled sec­tions of the so­ci­ety.

“The elec­toral process did not pro­vide a spe­cial process and/or sup­port for the vot­ing of the dis­abled peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly the vis­ually im­paired and those with speech and hear­ing im­pair­ments,” they said, adding, some of the vot­ing sta­tions were “in­ac­ces­si­ble to the phys­i­cally dis­abled”.

They rec­om­mended that the iEC en­gages non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions on im­prov­ing the on­go­ing voter ed­u­ca­tion to en­sure its ef­fec­tive­ness, con­sis­tency and com­pli­ance with the na­tional laws so as to avoid con­fu­sion.

“There was a lot of con­fu­sion for the vot­ers as three bal­lot pa­pers were used and this placed a lot of bur­den on the iEC staff who con­stantly had to ex­plain thus slow­ing the whole vot­ing process,” they said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.