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Mozambique Political Process Bulletin 67: Polling station manual ‘error’ could promote fraud

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Source: 2019 General Elections – Mozambique Political Process Bulletin

MMV manual error could promote fraud, observers and party delegates warned

The way the vote is recorded during the count is a key to one of the most important methods for observers and party delegates to prevent ballot box stuffing, but the manual for polling station staff (MMVs, membros de mesa de voto) makes a major error in the explanation which could encourage fraud.

During the count, the polling station president holds up each individual ballot paper and declares it “valid vote for X” or invalid (nulo) or blank. As the votes are announced one by one, the third and fourth scrutineers “note on the board [the black or white board in a school classroom]or on paper the number of votes for each candidate and blank and invalid votes”.

The manual then shows how this is to be done, with tick marks put into groups of five, then added up at the end:

The manual is posted on https://www.cipeleicoes.org/documentos/ and this table is on page 25.

But looking closely at candidates B and C, the sums are wrong. For candidate B, there are 23 tick marks but the total votes are given as 28, and for candidate C, there are 13 tick marks and only 12 votes listed.

In some places this will be seen as a hint on how to shift votes. The largest party may have 400 or more votes – which is 80 or more blocks of five ticks. It would be easy for the scrutineers to over or under count the number of groups of five ticks. How many observers and party delegates (poll watchers) bother to count the number of groups of five?

Because of this error, it becomes especially important for observers and delegates to check the final sum and record it – taking a note or a photo of the blackboard or the scrutineer’s sheet of paper.

These totals recorded at the time of the count of individual ballot papers are particularly important. This is because the manual specifies that each of the three elections – president, national parliament, and provincial assemblies – is counted separately and in that order, and only at the very end (often well after midnight) are the final official results sheets (editais) for the three elections written. That means that the blackboard with the presidential results is erased to allow the parliamentary count to be recorded, and it in turn is erased to allow the provincial assembly count. The most common form of ballot box stuffing is not physical ballots, but to write different numbers on the edital from the actual count, which is easy if observers and party delegates are asleep or did not check (counting the groups of 5) and record the numbers.

Checking and recording becomes even more important now because the error in the manual could encourage this type of fraud.

Polling station manual admits double registration

People who registered more than once remain multiple times on the register books, admits the manual for polling station staff (MMVs, membros de mesa de voto). Multiple registrations should have been removed by the technical secretariat STAE from the registers (cadernos) during the period after the registration, but they were simply noted and left on the register. The manual shows that multiple registration appear with the observation “duplicado”.

The manual is posted on https://www.cipeleicoes.org/documentos/ and the reference is on page 14.

STAE has never admitted duplicate registrations exist, so there is no estimate of how many duplicates there are.

The only instruction to MMVs in the manual is that the observation “duplicado” means that the voter is also registered in another book at another polling station, and therefore that the president of the polling stations should “take special care to see there are no indications of the indelible ink” on the voter’s finger – which the president is already supposed to do with all voters.

This opens an avenue for fraud with the connivance of polling station staff. People not registered could be allowed to use the second voters card, or staff could simply stuff the ballot box by putting in a vote for duplicate voters who have not voted.

This could also explain why Frelimo in some areas forced teachers and other civil servants to register twice, registering the second time at a particular polling stations farther from their homes. Such a polling station would have many duplicate registrations who would not vote because the teachers voted nearer to home, and thus it would be easy for corrupt polling station staff to vote this group a second time.

Better queue management in new MMV manual

Long and sometimes unruly queues are a problem at many polling stations, especially early in the morning of voting day. Some small changes set out in the manual for polling station staff (MMVs, membros de mesa de voto) could make queuing and voting run more smoothly.

The two main changes are that two MMVs, the third and fourth scrutineers, are assigned to be permanently outside the polling station managing the queue, and are given a copy of the register book (caderno).

First they sort the queue and move to a separate queue the people who vote first: the ill, pregnant women, the elderly, people with disabilities, and electoral staff.

The electoral register of up to 800 voters is in alphabetical order by first name, so the next step for each voter is to find where they are in the register and tell them their order number. Thus, when the voter goes inside the polling station, they tell the polling station staff their number in the register, speeding up the voting process.

The third task is to watch the polling station staff and admit people one at a time as soon as the previous voter has been given their ballot papers.

The process should make voting faster and move more smoothly.

The only issue is that the third and fourth scrutineers are often the MMVs appointed by Renamo and MDM, who will be outside the polling station rather than inside at the main table watching their colleagues.

The manual is posted on https://www.cipeleicoes.org/documentos/ and these instructions are on page 13.

MMV Candidates Boycott Training over food

Candidates for polling station staff (membros de mesa de voto, MMV) in Morrumbala District, Zambezia, dropped out of training Saturday (5 October) because they were dissatisfied with the snack provided by the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE) in the district.

For the snack each candidate was given two biscuit packets and a soda, our correspondents report. “Our colleagues in Tete receive 200 meticais ($3.30) a day and each has a decent snack. The same is not happening here in Morrumbala,” he said. On the first day we had Frozy and a little cookie package. We tolerated it until the second day,” he added. Another trainee told the Bulletin said that the group will not resume training without their demands being met.

The trainees are employed at Sede, Samora Machel, and Airport primary schools and the Industrial Institute. The District Election Commission (CDE) in Morrumbala set up a team yesterday to pass each school to convince the MMVs to resume training by promising to provide a decent snack. However, the candidates rejected the proposal on the grounds that the agency should give money to buy their own snack, our correspondents report.

Other elections news

Ossufo Momade no show disappoints supporters

Renamo members and supporters in Barue, Manica, were disappointed when their candidate for president, Ossufo Momade, failed to visit. He was first was due to arrive at the district headquarters on Friday (4 October) which was postponed until Saturday, but even then he did not arrive, our correspondents report.

Ossufo Momade arrived Saturday in Chimoio and held a rally. Renamo political delegate in Barue, Verdean Francisco Manivete, said the poor airfield runway conditions in that district forced Ossufo to change his schedule.

Stoning, Arrests and Flag Theft in Niassa

Ten Renamo supporters were stoned by Frelimo counterparts in Maua, Niassa, Friday morning (October 4) when supporters of both parties met at the same residence during a door-to-door campaign, leading to a brawl.

Several Frelimo supporters were detained on the spot, our correspondents report.

Also in Niassa, in Muembe, the party flag was taken from the MDM Campaign Director Andissone Silva’s residence. The theft follows various approaches by Frelimo to persuade the campaign director to remove the flag from his house.

Two deaths, 33 injured and four detained in the penultimate week

Two people died, 33 were injured, 5 seriously, and 4 were arrested in connection with the election campaign during the fifth and penultimate week This was the week with the lowest number of deaths since the start of the election campaign.

One death was that of a child hit by a truck carrying Frelimo supporters in Massingir, Gaza, on 3 October. One child was hit by a truck carrying Frelimo supporters (see Bulletin 66). Another case occurred in Mossurize, Manica, where a Frelimo member was murdered at his home by strangers.

Most injuries were in Gaza, of which 26 occurred 3 October when a truck carrying Frelimo supporters to Filipe Nyusi’s Massingir rally rolled over. Three Frelimo supporters were injured in fights with MDM and Renamo supporters in Manjacaze and Mabalane

Of the remaining 3 injured, 2 occurred in Tete and 1 in Niassa on 30 September, and all were targets of aggression.

There were 3 arrests in Milange on 4 October of Malawians campaigning for Renamo. On 3 October in Dondo, Sofala, a Renamo supporter was arrested in the Mafarinha neighbourhood allegedly for destroying Frelimo propaganda material.

Since the campaign began 38 people have died, 225 have sustained injuries, and 48 have been detained. Most deaths and injuries are from traffic accidents.


Editor: Joseph Hanlon | Publisher: Edson Cortez | News Editor: Borges Nhamire

Reporters: Aldemiro Bande, Magda Mendonça, Sheila Nhancale, Graciano Claudio, João Machassel
Published by CIP, Centro de Integridade Pública (Public Integrity Centre),
Rua Fernão Melo e Castro, no 124, Maputo. eleicoes@cipmoz.org bit.ly/GenEl2019

ARTICLES MAY BE FREELY REPRINTED but please cite the source: “2019 General Elections – Mozambique Political Process Bulletin”.

Previous newsletters are posted on http://bit.ly/2H066Kg

There are two archives of historic elections data, at IESE on http://www.iese.ac.mz/eleicoes-resultado/ and at London School of Economics on http://bit.ly/MozElDaa. The LSE archive now has detailed 2013 and 2014 results, by polling station.

© 2019, ZITAMAR NEWS. All rights reserved.

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