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News: Defect in ballot papers leads to postponed election in dozens of constituencies, Somali region & SW referendum

Birtukan Mideksa, Chairwoman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia at a media briefing on June 10, 2021

By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil

Addis Abeba, June 10, 2021- At a presser the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) gave to the media today, it unveiled a date for a second round of elections in 54 contituninces  despite scheduling the date for polling in said constituencies on June 21. The board announced that these constituencies affected by ballot paper defections will take place on September 6, 2021 alongside 40 other constituencies where the NEBE previously said elections cannot take place due to security reasons and voters’ registration irregularities. Polling will not take place as scheduled in all constituencies in the Somali region as well as in the South West Referendum.

The board held a discussion with political parties on logistics and other issues yesterday. The discussion focused on the challenges the board faced in the printing of ballot papers. The chairwoman of the board, Birtukan Mideksa explained that an audit conducted by the operation department of the board found out that the ballots in 54 constituencies need to be reprinted. According to Birtukan, in some constituencies, there was a mismatch between the ballot papers and forms where the results were revealed.  She also spoke of the complaints filed by parties regarding the allocated money for them by the board. 

A total of 54 constituencies found in Seven regional states; Six in Afar region, 11 in Amhara region, Two in Benishangul Gumuz region, Three in Gambella region, 2 in Oromia region, Fifteen in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region, Fourteen in Somali region and One in Dire Dawa City administration need their ballot papers to be printed again, Birtukan said. 

The board presented the administrative measures taken by the board while. The political parties who attended the meeting were asked to put forward the solutions regarding the challenges and consequences of the reprinting and transportation of ballot papers to the aforementioned constituencies before the polling day. The board also mentioned IT related problems for the deficit in the printing of ballot papers. Birtukan said the problem, which is being investigated, happened in the process of digitizing the works related to the 6th national election. 

The parties proposed that the board looks into the possibility of reprinting of the ballot papers locally. They also suggested that the polling in these constituencies be carried out alongside constituencies previously identified as constituencies where elections cannot take place due to security threats. The board noted the two options and called for a media briefing the next day. Birtukan assured the political parties that the election will be held as scheduled June 21. 

As for the IT related problems mentioned at yesterday’s meeting, the Board stated that it has taken administrative measures against the employees responsible for the error in the ballot papers. Some personnels of the IT department, according to the Birtukan mishandled data due to negligence on their part. She also attributed some of the deficit to human errors. The spokesperson of the Board, Soliyana Shimeles told Addis Standard that the board sacked the head of the ICT department and another IT department employee. AS

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