Sunday, October 17, 2021

Workers union haul gov’t to court over EVMs

The Manual Workers Union has served the Attorney General Chambers with a statutory notice informing them of its intention to sue government over the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM).

President Ian Khama is cited as the Fourth Respondent while Presidential Affairs Minister Eric Molale is Second Respondent.  Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe is cited as the First Respondent and the Independent Electoral Commission if the Third Respondent.

The statutory notice states that Manual Workers Union’s Organising Secretary Johnson Motswarakgole, who is cited as the Second Claimant, like any citizen and registered voter has an interest in the process put in place by the government to facilitate his enjoyment of his constitutional right to the suffrage.

Therefore, the union through their lawyers, Collins and Chilisa Consultants, say Motshwarakgole is a party to this process.

The lawyers state that the Act is unconstitutional in terms of Section 32 (c) of the Constitution; elections can only be by way of ballot.

“Ballots are self-evidently paper-based. Nowhere does it allow for elections by way of electronic voting. Electronic voting is therefore not envisaged in the Constitution,” said the lawyers.

The lawyers state “that even assuming that electronic voting is envisaged in the Constitution, the introduction of electronic voting machine in its envisaged form is unconstitutional in that it does not provide mechanism(s) that allow for independent verification”.

Chilisa says in its present form, the electronic voting machines do not guarantee the constitutional right to a free, fair and transparent election

“The electronic voting machines in their current form stores votes in an electronic memory only and the tallying of votes is not independently verifiable (in the absence of (WPAT) and therefore infringes the fundamental rights of electorate in that there is no possibility of a public count, no way of the general public having access to the verification process with the said process being left in the hands of technicians with ‘expert’ knowledge”,” reads the statutory notice.

The lawyer further observe that programming errors in the software or deliberate electoral fraud committed by manipulating the software of these electronic voting machines by these so-called “experts” can be recognised only with difficulty.

“The electronic voting machine is a software and/or technology and like any software and/or technology is susceptible to malfunctions and manipulation. It is for this reason that it is all the more important that there be an independent verifiable source,” reads the statutory notice.  

The lawyers concluded that “In the absence of such an independent verifiable source, the use of the electronic voting machine opens the floodgates to manipulations and is unconstitutional. The right to vote can only have significance if there is certainty that the vote has been cast and tallied correctly otherwise then the right is meaningless.” 

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