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National

No voter cards for 2019 polls

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The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has disclosed that there will be no production of voters’ cards, as voters for 2019 polls will have to use their national Identity Cards (IDs) that are currently being produced by the National Registration Bureau (NRB)

The electoral body disclosed this in an interview Wednesday following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it has signed with NRB.

The agreement is meant to ensure that the voter registration process benefits from national registration and national IDs’ process, which is currently using a biometric system.

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Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah said, apart from using the cards for voter registration, the cards will also replace the normal voting cards that are produced during the election period.

“The card that is being issued by NRB is the same card that will be used by Mec in coming up with voter registration, verification and it is the same card that people will be using on the polling day,” Ansah said.

Ansah added that, apart from reducing the amount of money that is required to conduct an election, the decision is backed up by research conducted by a company called Africo, which recommended the use of the same data that NRB will produce at the end of the exercise.

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“For so long, we have been looking for means of migrating from the use of Optical Mark Recognition system to biometric voter registration which is more reliable. UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] has helped us by engaging Africo, which did a research on migration and the report suggested that we use the same data because it is reliable, free from any errors that we normally encounter when we are using the old system,” Ansah said.

The Mec chairperson said the decision has also been arrived at after having further and thorough consultations with stakeholders and expressed optimism that, through the agreement, the 2019 elections would be cheaper and reliable.

In the agreement, among others, the two bodies have agreed that the ongoing national registration exercise should be completed by December 2017 as the electoral body will commence the voter registration exercise in February or March 2018.

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