NEBE’s stance on election and ballot errors

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Birtukan Mideksa (Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) takes administrative measures against the employees responsible for the error in the ballot papers, 27 constituencies are excluded from the June 21, 2021 election as result of error in the ballot papers.
The 6th general election will be held on June 21, 2021 in accordance with the new schedule the election board announced two weeks ago. The election which is expected to be held in less than a week beside various insecurity and logistic distresses, error in the ballot papers threatened the twice delayed national polls.
According to the national board announcement on Thursday, it is to be recalled that the Board stated that there are problems with the 54 constituencies that were found to be in need of re-printing of ballot papers. Among these constituencies, the number of polling stations that have problems with voting is now 27. Accordingly, voting in these 27 State and House of Representatives constituencies will be held on September 6, 2021.
The board mentioned that some of the errors were human made and done intentionally and some happened in the process work related errors.
“The board has taken administrative measures on its employees which is up to prohibition from work in order to better determine who is responsible for the error in the ballot papers by mishandling data due to their neglect, ” said Birtukan Mideksa, Chairwoman of the board on a press briefing given on Thursday, June 10, 2021. The board will conduct a vetting process on the ballot paper and will announce the results explained Birtukan. Currently, the number of employees the board has taken the measures on is still undefined.
The new delay was needed because of logistical woes related to tasks like training electoral staff and printing and distributing ballot papers. The logistical challenges promise to be daunting even with the delay. Likewise, staff shortages have been hindering the election. Places where voter registration has not started, due to security concerns, locations where voter registration has begun and been terminated, areas where complaints have been lodged during the voter registration process or where the board has decided to investigate a significant irregularity in the voter registration process, are notable hurdles faced ahead of the elections.
To this end, there have been 40 constituencies where the NEBE previously said elections cannot take place due to security reasons and voters’ registration irregularities.
The board announced that these constituencies affected by ballot paper defections will take place on September 6, 2021 alongside with the 40 constituencies. Whereas the second round of election will be held on September 6, 2021, total of 81 constituencies will hold their election on the second round election and expected voters in those areas will be able to cast ballots before a new parliamentary session begins in early October.
“We need to hire more than 100,000 additional staff and train them on voting day procedures and tabulating results. Staff shortages have been especially apparent so far in Afar and Somali regions, where registration started late,” explained the NEBE chair.
According to the election board there are 673 constituencies over the country, and the 6th general election will be held at all of the constituencies in Addis Ababa, Diredawa, Gambela region and Sidama region.
According to the new plan of the board, Somali region is completely excluded from the June 21, 2021 election, according to the board even if voter registration has been completed in 14 constituencies it has been suspended due widespread procedural problem with voter registration to an investigation in the region and it is one of the regions most affected by the re-printing of ballot papers mainly because of misinformation.
As Birtukan said, the voter and candidate registration in the region has been misconceived and to this end the board is investigating and also taking some administrative measures. Prior to that, it will finalize and publicize issues related to voter registration.
The referendum in Southwest Ethiopia was scheduled to take place on June 21 with the general election, but due to security concerns, some constituencies will not be able to cast their ballots due to security concerns so the election will be held on September 6, 2021.
According to the board, Voter registration has been completed in the verification process, bringing the total number of registered voters to 37.4 million. This figure does not include the 14 constituencies where voter registration has been suspended due to the investigation in the Somali region, and also the number of voters in Harari region.
Besides, as the board announced, additional illegal 79 polling stations have been opened without the approval of the board , 2 polling stations in Addis Ababa, 6 with the Dire Dawa City Administration, and 71 polling stations at South Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region without the Board’s approval, which is illegal. Also the Board has announced that it will make a decision on the voting process before the polling day regarding the polling stations.
In Benishangul-Gumuz State, two constituencies (Metekel, Kamash) will not be held on June 21, 2021.
In the Oromia Region, as mentioned earlier, the seven constituencies (Begi, Monday Market, Ayana, Galilee, Alibo, Gidami, Kombolcha) will not be held on June 21, 2021.
Amhara State the Board has decided to hold a voting process on June 21, 2021 in one of the eight constituencies mentioned above. This was confirmed by a confirmation from the regional government that citizens in the vicinity of the five polling stations where voter registration had been disrupted were registered at other polling stations.
In addition to the four constituencies in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR), the budget will not be voted on by the Constituent Assembly on June 21; In addition, due to security concerns in Gurafarda, the Sheko Special Constituency and Tepi Constituency elections will not be held on June 21. As a result, the SNNPR will not vote on seven constituencies on the day.
The board has said it has developed its transportation system with the cooperation of federal institutions, state governments and others based on voter registration experience using the full power of the Board in transporting ballot papers.
So far the board has not announced any of its plans about the 6th national election in Tigray region.