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President ratifies bill nullifying ballots with doodles

13 March 2019, MVT 17:49
A voter casting his ballot in the 2018 presidential election. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
13 March 2019, MVT 17:49

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Tuesday, ratified the bill which renders ballots cast with additional drawings, to be void.

Proposed by Hulhudhoo MP Mohamed Shahid, the bill nullifies ballot papers used by the Elections Commission (EC) that are cast with any scribbles or drawings, excluding the checkmark placed next to the name of the candidate that is chosen by the voter.

The bill was passed through a combination of votes hailing from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), and Jumhooree Party.

MP Shahid, a member of PPM, stated that the reason for submitting the proposal was to ensure voter secrecy as dictated in the constitution and Elections General Act. According to Shahid, scribbling on ballot paper may potentially compromise the anonymity of the voter.

While EC is required to implement the bill during the parliamentary elections slated for April 6, EC member Ahmed Akram tweeted that passing new laws regarding voting after elections are announced could disrupt the electoral process.

Bills prohibiting scribbling on ballots have been submitted to parliament on several occasions, however, the parliament failed to pass them. Preceding Shahid, Feydhoo MP Ibrahim Didi had presented a similar bill which was abolished by the votes of PPM and MDA members.

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