WINDHOEK – Swapo members of parliament last week defended the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) despite a motion by Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) calling for the abolishment of EVMs on grounds they are slow and unreliable.
Namibians will be going to the polls next year November to vote for a new President and new MPs.
Speaking in the National Assembly, RDP MP Mike Kavekotora called for the abolishment of the EVMs and instead reintroduce the manual ballot paper voting system.
“These machines are unreliable, untrustworthy and insecure and they have in actual fact slowed down the voting, the counting process and the release of election results in Namibia,” he said.
According to him voters are unable to verify how their votes are allocated to the party for which they cast their votes.
“Above all, EVMs lack evidence in case of a court challenge,” he said.
“EVMs are banned in the Netherlands due to the secrecy risk of electronic eavesdropping; in Ireland– due to lack of transparency and trust,” he said.
In Germany, he said the Supreme Court had declared EVMs unreliable and unconstitutional due to a lack of transparency for the common voter
According to him, EVMs were also banned in California (US) and other US states have also banned EVMs without paper trails, while the United Kingdom and France decided not to implement EVMs for more or less similar reasons.
He added that besides shortcomings, ECN (Electoral Commission of Namibia) has relied on foreign technicians to deal with technical hiccups.
Kavekotora wants the ECN to revert to the traditional voting method as provided for under Section 99 of the Electoral Act.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the use of EVMs was never imposed by Swapo onto Namibians.
She said the proposal to use EVMs came through an independent non-political state institution that was established through the laws that were passed through parliament.
“If for any reason we have a change of mind and we no longer wish to continue to use the machines, we can simply just evoke the process of consultations and decide in a consultative manner that we no longer wish to continue the use of these machines, without coming with all kinds of unsubstantiated allegations that seem to tarnish our governance system for no reason,” she stated.
Swapo MP and Minister of Justice Sacky Shangala said according to a judgement in the Indian Supreme Court, EVMs used in India are unique and unlike the ones used in the elections in the USA and other countries that are computer-based.
He explained that the information stored in the memory of the control unit can be retrieved by using a decoder which, when attached to the controls of the EVM, can print out the statement of voting data showing the order in which each voter has voted and for whom he has voted, therefore it cannot remit anything unless you attach the decoder to it, therefore the interference from outside is neither here nor there.