District Election Clerks drilled on new biometric technology

MULANJE: The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has begun training District Election Clerks (DECs) on the new biometrical system ahead of the voter registration for 2019 tripartite elections expected to commence this May in selected districts.

Speaking on the sidelines of a three day training workshop at Hapuwani in Mulanje District on Saturday, MEC Commissioner and Chairperson for Electoral Service Committee, Jean Mathanga said the workshop was important in the election calendar as it will build a rock-solid base on which the success of the elections will be based.

As you might be aware that MEC has been using a paper based system during registration called Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) but now we are moving into a new technology which is biometric so we want to introduce our clerks in the districts to this system knowing that the starting point towards any credible election is voter registration,” she said.

The Commissioner said the training would also update the clerks on major activities planned by the commission in preparation for the forthcoming general elections.

She then urged all Malawians within the voting age (18 and above) to turn up in large numbers at polling stations during the registration period.

This time around, we are going to have almost 5006 centers nationwide, so whenever we announce that we are moving into an area, we urge all Malawians to come out and register.

This is a new technology, we are not going to verify any names, it’s like we are starting all over again.

So those that registered in 2014 should know that they will not be able to use the registration cards which were handed to them in 2014. This is a new system all together. So each and every voter needs to come out and register to get a new card, she said.

To political parties, the commissioner said that they have a responsibility in ensuring their supporters register.

There could be other Malawians who might not know that we have started registration in their area so we trust political parties to help us to sensitize their supporters to go out and register in their respective areas.

At the same time, we also want these elections to be carried out in a peaceful manner. We appeal to political parties to encourage their supporters to observe peace during the registration period, said Mathanga.

Balaka District Elections Clerk, Davis Gonondo said the training is crucial as it will impart them with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively carry out their roles in the coming tripartite election process.

The training is vital to us as District Election Clerks because this time around we are going to learn a lot of things in terms of preparation in the coming elections including how to use the new biometric technology, we know that a lot of activities are coming and they are trying to prepare us for them.

As district election clerks we are ready, we have already begun some of the needed processes for the registration exercise. We have begun receiving names of monitors during the registration period. We just hope once the centers are open, we will have a good turn up, said Gonondo.

The registration process is expected to run from May to Augustt this year.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA