Transparency Maldives’ Interim Report on the 2023 Presidential Election
Transparency Maldives, in their interim statement on the 2023 Presidential Election, said the Election day processes went well but expressed some concerns about the election environment especially on abuse of state resources.
The report indicated that the Election Day administration was well managed by the Elections Commission (EC). The opening of polls went smoothly with 85.4% of polling stations open within the first 10 minutes of the official opening time. All EC officials were present at nearly all of the polling stations and the materials required for voting were also made available. The candidates were well represented at all polling stations.
Transparency Maldives said that while there were no concern of mass voter fraud or any issues which could significantly affect an accurate vote count result, the secrecy of the ballot was violated in several instances as guidelines to protect the secrecy of the ballot were not consistently upheld within the polling station.
More than 400 observers and volunteers were deployed across the country to observe the election. The observers collected both qualitative and quantitative data from 311 polling stations representing 56.86% of all ballot boxes employing a systematic random sampling. The methodology used allowed them to generate results from the sample to the entire population within a margin of error of +/- 1%. Transparency Maldives also deployed 31 long-term observers across the country in 19 Atolls since July 2023.
Transparency Maldives observed multiple campaign related incidents and violations including vandalism, attack on an candidate during a campaign rally, death threats and other threats on social media platforms to candidates. They also expressed concern about the restriction to freedom of assembly especially the heavy police presence at opposition protests as well as the arrest and detainment of opposition protestors, especially during the incumbent's campaign trail.
More so, Transparency Maldives also noted about the issue of abuse of state resources as development projects and socio-economic policies were changed during the campaign period. They said that without a clear delineation between official duties and campaign activities, the incumbent administration could abuse state resources.
Transparency Maldives called on the Election Commission to meaningfully address the challenges to ensuring the secrecy of the vote and continue efforts to increase public confidence in the election day proceedings.
More significantly, Transparency Maldives said that while the electoral legal framework provides the minimum standards to allow for free and fair elections to be conducted in the country, drastic changes need to be brought to strengthen the electoral system and bring it in line with internationally accepted best practices including:
-changes to law to close any loopholes in campaign expenditure and increase transparency in campaign finance
-introduce a clear timeframe for announcement and inauguration of development projects, job announcements and key policy changes ahead of an election, including freezing announcement and inauguration of new projects
-introduce comprehensive rules and procedures for electoral dispute resolution to address challenges in identifying and resolving major electoral issues
Maldives is heading for a run off election on September 30 after no candidate received the 50% plus one vote to win in the first round. Read the interim statement of Transparency Maldives for the full account of their observation of the 2023 Presidential Election as well as their recommendations: English | DhivehiElection-Interim-Report-ENG Election-Interim-Report-DV