Saturday, January 22, 2022

IEC bemoans sluggish start to voter registration

Registration of Botswana’s two million potential voters got off to a slow start as polling stations across the country recorded a low general turn-out.

An Independent Electoral Commission official, Dintle Rapoo, described the first days of registration as relatively disappointing. He revealed that for the first four days some areas had registered as little as twelve voters.

By October 7, Gaborone Central registered 439 and Gaborone North registered 825, Bonnington North 739, and Boninngton South 632, Molepolole North 879 and Molepolole South 602 potential voters.
Francistown West, South and East had registered 1198, 890, and 671 voters respectively. Nkange also registered over a 1000 voters by October 7.

Rapoo advised Batswana not to wait until the 11th hour to flock the polling stations.

The next round of registrations is scheduled for March 2014 followed by another one in June. Rapoo says supplementary registrations are largely intended for first time voters who would have just turned the statutory voting age of 18.

The IEC’s target for the next general elections is 1.1 million registrations or 80 percent of the 1.4 million eligible voters.┬á “Ideally we want to register as much as 100 percent of eligible voters,” Rapoo says.

Meanwhile, after the 2008 incident in which one of the registration officers was mugged and a registration book lost, it seems the IEC has not done enough to secure the books. The registration officers still have to carry the books home with them after closing the registration stations which poses the risk of loss or damage.

Rapoo has attributed this to lack of proper permanent structures at most of the polling stations.
“As you may have noticed we use open spaces to carry out registrations and due to the vastness of the areas we have to cover, it becomes impossible for the IEC to keep the books overnight,” he said.

The best they can do to secure the books, Rapoo said, is for the registration officers and Batswana at large to appreciate the importance of the process. He says in the unfortunate event that a registration book disappears, as was the case in 2008, they make a public announcement through the media requesting people with cards bearing the registration number of the book to come forward for re-registering.

However, he says none of the 10 people who had registered in the stolen book showed up to vote.
“Should such a person show up to vote a quick investigation would be carried out to ascertain the validity of their registration card,” he said.

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