THE IEC HEADACHE
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) decided to hire public servants as voter registration clerks because the youth and the unemployed messed up the Voter’s Roll in 2018 ahead of the 2019 elections.
IEC Secretary Jefferson Siamisang told The Midweek Sun on Monday that to this day, they are grappling with the mistakes that were made by people that they had engaged for the registration exercise.
Before 2018 the IEC had all along been engaging the services of teachers for voter registration and the exercise went smoothly. However, going into the 2019 elections, they decided to empower the youth only to realise a lot of mistakes on the voter’s roll with some voters who had registered being omitted, sometimes even deliberately from their subsequent investigations.
“We found situations where someone would be carrying an authentic registration card which proved that they registered but their names missing on the voter’s roll,” he said.
He added that they also received feedback that some registration clerks took registration books to entertainment joints such as bars and after sipping on adult beverages, started registering people.
Siamisang also shared that some politicians would bring identity documents of voters at the residence of registration clerks and beg them to register their people.
“This was wrong on so many levels and this is why we have now decided that no registration should be done outside designated voter registration stations.
“Registration will be done from 0800hrs to 1800hrs on weekdays and from 0800hrs to 1600hrs on weekends. When they knock off, there will be people checking everything to ensure that no additional people are registered outside the stipulated times,” Siamisang assured.
He said some have suggested that the registration book should be taken away from clerks at the end of each business day but IEC believes the process would be strenuous for those supervising registration.
It will mean that supervisors will have to drop the booklets every morning at registration stations which might result in delays in the mornings.
He added that it is not like they have completely shunned the youth and unemployed, what they have done is that from the 5 620 registration clerks hired, 50 percent are the youth and unemployed and the other 50 percent is made up of public servants.
“We did this as a way of strengthening supervision; we understand that most of the young people are not experienced so pairing them with people who are already trusted with some kind of responsibilities at their workplaces might reduce some of the mistakes encountered in 2018.”
Asked about the criteria used to hire public servants, Siamisang said they sent out requests to heads of departments to release employees and they were fortunate to find that Standard 7 pupils were done with their final year examinations and some teachers were available to assist IEC.
“I must emphasise that they will all be paid the same, it is P250 per day and Sunday is rest day, meaning they will get double the daily rate or P500 because we need them to work every day for a full month in November, registration begins this Wednesday and all is ready,” Siamisang said.