The Elections Commission (EC), on Sunday, announced that Novelty Printers was assigned the task of printing ballots for the upcoming parliamentary election slated for April 6.
During a press conference, EC President Ahmed Shareef stated that all matters pertaining to ballot printing had been completed.
Novelty Printers has printed a total of 267,159 ballots to be used in the election in which 264,442 people are eligible to vote. As per the law, it is permissible to print a number of extra ballots that does not exceed one percent of the voting population.
The EC president revealed that the ballots, printed in black and white, included two security features. Ballots for the 2018 presidential election were printed with the inclusion of three security features.
According to Shareef, the tender board of the Ministry of Finance made the final decision on which company would print ballot papers. Public Finance regulations stipulate that any expense over MVR 2.5 million must be approved by the Finance Ministry's tender board. Shareef stated that the cheapest bid presented was for MVR 2.6 million.
While only Novelty Printers and M7 Printers submitted bids, EC concluded that the former was more capable for the task at hand and assigned ballot printing to Novelty a week earlier.
The same two publishing houses submitted bids to print ballots for the 2018 presidential election. M7 was awarded the project and EC came under heavy criticism for the choice of ballot printers, owing to the fact that Novelty proposed to print a set of 25 ballots for MVR 63.80 while M7 proposed to prepare the same amount of ballots for MVR 345.85. Novelty Printers also attained more points than M7 during the bidding process.
Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom accused the elections watchdog of attempting to influence the results of the elections and particularly highlighted EC's choice of printing partner in the case he lodged at the Supreme Court.
EC President Shareef refuted these claims, stating that the decision was made by the then Finance Minister Ahmed Munavvar in accordance with the regulations.