Clarification on media report that Malawians will vote using national IDs


The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) would like to clarify misrepresentation of information as regards its planned collaboration with the National Registration Bureau (NRB) on biometric voter registration.

The Daily Times of July 14, 2016 carried an article with the headline, “Malawians to vote using national IDs” in which mentioned that voters will not need voter IDs for voting in 2019 and will instead use the National Identity cards.

The Commission would like to inform all stakeholders that for 2019 elections it will still issue voter certificates and they will remain the sole document for identification of voters during polling.

MEC will still be required to conduct its own voter registration to come up with the voters roll which helps in planning for logistics like number of ballot papers for each polling station.

Voting is not compulsory in Malawi and people will have to express their intention to vote by registering with MEC and at a centre where they wish to cast their vote. This can be a centre nearest to their work place, where they conduct business, they stay or they were born.

Stakeholders should also be aware that NRB will register everyone from16 years but MEC will only be interested in those who will have attained the voting age of 18 by the polling day.

During voter registration to be conducted by MEC, registrants will be required to bring their National IDs issued by the NRB for identification.

MEC registration staff will register the person for that centre and copy the National ID details so that they can be used to extrapolate the biometric details from the NRB database to build the voters roll.

As per practice registered voters who lose their voter certificates will be allowed to vote if their names are found in the voters roll. In the event that a holder of the National ID is not found in the voters roll, they will not be allowed to vote because it means they are not registered as a voter.

This collaboration with the NRB will greatly reduce the volume of work and costs that would have been incurred if MEC was to conduct the whole biometric voter registration process on its own.

The collaboration between MEC and NRB was mooted to harness synergies. An assessment report by consultants, Africore, recommended MEC should work with NRB as it plans to conduct a biometric voter registration ahead of 2019 elections while NRB intends to conduct nationwide civil registration.

Stakeholders should also be aware that there is an exit clause under the agreement should there be slippage of time in the implementation of activities by the NRB. When it comes to that MEC will conduct its own biometric voter registration ahead of the elections in May 2019.Signed this 14th day of July, 2016 at Blantyre.

Willie Kalonga