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Participation is the biggest challenge to the success of elections

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Participation is the biggest challenge to the success of elections

Preliminary report on the Election Day
Morocco, November 26, 2011, at eleven am

At eight o'clock in the morning on Friday, 25/11/2011 began the opening of the polls for legislative elections in the Kingdom of Morocco, which are monitored by five teams of international observers from the team of Elections Network in the Arab World composed of 31 international monitors from seven Arab countries to monitor the parliamentary elections. The team toured 417 Offices in the cities of Rabat, Salé, Casablanca, Rabat, Zammor, Zair, Tangier, Marrakech, Tensift, Haouz, Fez, Meknes, Tafilalt, Khemisset, Tetouan, Asilah, Qenitra, Araish and Bouzniqa, and attended the closures and counting in 132 central office.

The monitors of the network recorded a number of observations that they included in a preliminary report on the elections, while the detailed report will be issued by the network for the overall electoral process after a month of the issuance of the final official results. Opening:

During the opening of the polls the following points were recorded: -

1 - All offices of the vote were legally opened at eight in the morning and the network monitors were present in 10 offices of the vote.

2 – The staff in the offices that have been monitored worked according to the electoral law and related regulations. 3 - Representatives of the parties and the lists in most of the polling stations were present at the opening.

4 – No case of preventing monitors from entering polling stations was registered.

The voting process: During the voting process, the following points were observed: -1 – The secrecy of the ballot: - The ballot box generally allowed a sufficient degree of freedom and secrecy of the ballot, and no incidents of violation of the secrecy of the ballot were recorded. - The monitors observed two cases of violation of secrecy of voting related to persons with disabilities, where the polling stations did not apply the measures in full. 2 - Verification of the election identity: - The verification process of the national voters' cards was in accordance with the electoral system, where the names of voters were checked in the registry as stated in the law. The network monitors observed disparity between some of the directors of the polling stations in the application of the measures between the notation in front of the name in the record and asking the voter's signature in the log. 3 - The quality of materials used in the voting process: - All election papers in all polling stations that have been monitored carried official seal, and some disparity was observed in the application of measures regarding the number of election securities and the distribution percentage to the polling stations where some got the amount according to the voters in the register and others received 10% extra in a statement released by vote desk officers. - In All centers there were transparent boxes locked with two locks, except for one locked with only one. - The quality of the pens used was good they were used legally, except when used as a tool for fingerprinting so as to clear the ink. - The voters register was divided into a range between 300 to 600 voters in each polling station, in line with best practices in terms of the division of voters to the polls. Monitors have registered complaints about voters whose names were not included in the record or the presence of errors in the name or birth date. 4 - Multiple voting and impersonation: - No attempts to repeat the vote and impersonation were noticed, while the one case was observed and stopped despite the insistence of the voter. 5 – Period of voting: - The period needed by the voter to cast his vote ranged between 3-4 minutes, and in special cases (illiterate and those with special needs) the process took a relatively longer time. 6 - Participation rate: - Most of the polling stations witnessed low turnout of the voter that the rate of voters was one every 5 to 6 minutes. A reluctance to go to the polls was noted until the middle of the day, where the turnout did not exceed 10% in many offices, while it was relatively better in the afternoon. It the rate of participation in some areas exceeded 35% at five in the afternoon. The network monitors could not determine the proportion of participation due to failure of a number of heads of polling stations to provide them with numbers of participants on the grounds that the instructions of the Ministry of Interior prevented that.

- A rise in the proportion of older people vote against the reluctance of young people was observed, while the participation rate of men was greater than the participation of women. Closing process:

During the closing process the following points were observed: -

1 – At 7:00 pm most of the polling stations were closed according to the instructions and procedures set forth in the law. 2 – Voting was not allowed after seven o'clock in the evening. Screening:

During the screening process the following points were observed: -

1 - The screening process in general was transparent and smooth and the network monitors did not notice major irregularities that may affect the results.

2 - Discrepancy between the heads of the committees was observed in the application of screening procedures, suggesting the lack of access for full information to the committee or conduct adequate training for them.

In light of that we sum up the most important positive and negative points with respect to the election day as follows:

Positive points: 1 - Providing a suitable security environment to get voters to the polling stations and to facilitate their entrances, although there were some cases of fights between supporters of the competing lists that led to a temporary halt of the process of voting and injured some people.

2 - Facilitating the task of voting of the people with special needs.

3 - Opening offices on time, the presence of the required number of workers in the committees, and the provision of basic supplies to the voting process. 4 - Despite the boycott by some opposition parties for the elections and their call on voters not participate, participation was a positive indicator of willingness to change. 5 - Quick and immediate action had been taken against certain irregularities that came to the bodies responsible for the operation. 6 – Agreeing to the participation of local, civil, and international society in the process of observation and reporting is a positive indicator to the development of the electoral level to reach the international standards for successful elections. Negative points:

1 - The presence of billboards hanging on the wall of some polling stations belonging to the electoral campaign and the spread of scraps of paper for candidates in front of the door or inside the offices, which is regarded as a continuation of the propaganda campaign.

2 – The presence of a ballot paper joint between the local and national regulations made the process of voting difficult on some of the voters and increased the number of illegal securities (void) inside the ballots.

3 - The level and efficiency of workers in the offices of the vote varied and that caused delay and failure to apply the procedures consistently, and it caused anger on some voters for not voting and participating.

4 - Not enough participation of women in the offices of voting, and the difference in the distribution of roles among the staff of the polling stations that some of them looked like spectators. 5 - Not having the name lists of the voters outside the polling stations made it difficult for staff to make sure of the names, especially those who did not have prior notice, and it also made it difficult for voters to know the office of the vote that they had to visit more than one voting office. 6 - The polling places were remote from the residence of voters in more than 500 meters which led to the non-arrival of some, especially the elderly and the sick, and some monitors observed that some voters were far from the center by twenty kilometers, particularly in rural areas. Recommendations:

The most important recommendations with regard to the election day:

1 - Dividing the polling stations on the basis of proximity of residence of voters and working to facilitate the task of voters in terms of access to the site of the ballot that it should not exceed 500 meters.

2 - Removing the errors in the register of voters and the delivery of notices to all voters. 3 - Raising the level of skills of workers in the electoral administration and subject them to more exercise.

4 - Apply international standards in the 100 m distance around the center concerning the electoral campaigning. 5 – Making use of technology, provided that the necessary supplies are present.

6 – Putting the names of candidates with their pictures on two separate lists (local and national) and according to the constituencies to facilitate the task of voting especially for the illiterate and to reduce false (invalid) papers.

7 - Continue giving a chance for observation and monitoring networks and taking the reports into consideration in the assessment of the electoral process through the lessons inspired by experience to evaluate the process in the future. At the end: We affirm that the electoral process generally took place in accordance with the law and procedures and a suitable environment for the vote have been provided, making it highly expressive of the opinion of voters. The network will issue its final report after a month from now. For more information, please contact our network team in Morocco:

Dr. Nidham Assaf  - Head of the network00212641847817

Dr. Violette Dagher - the official spokesperson for the monitoring team.

002120641847879

Attorney Hoger Jetto - Executive Director of the monitoring team.

002120641847813

Or via e-mail:

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