Namisa Blogger of the year 2013,Stimulating the much needed debate

“MEC BANS FIRST NAMES ON BALLOT PAPERS”

The Malawi Electoral Commission wishes to clarify misconceptions that have been
reported regarding the proposal to use official names of candidates on ballot
papers for presidential elections.
Media reports have indicated that the Commission has banned use of first names,
middle names and nicknames on ballot papers and that the candidates will have
to be known by their surnames.
MEC would like to clarify that it has neither banned nor proposed to ban, use of
first names on the ballot papers. The proposal by MEC is an amendment to
Section 76 (b) and Section 43 of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act
and Section (60)(1) of the Local Government Elections Act to reflect that
candidates’ names should be arranged in alphabetical order of surnames.
Candidates will be free to use names of their choice which they would love to be
identified with but these names will be arranged in order of their surnames. This
is consistent with the electoral laws as well as international best practices.
MEC is not coming up with a new thing; this is what has been done in practice in all previous elections. However, there is a loophole in the legislation which is prone to abuse by candidates who may intend to use only first names or nick names so that they should appear on a specific position on the ballot paper and the amendment targets to seal that loophole.
In coming up with this proposal, the Commission consulted a lot of stakeholders on this issue and the other 16 proposed amendments which have been submitted to the Ministry of Justice for amendment during the forthcoming sitting of Parliament to ensure smooth conduct of the 2014 Tripartite Elections. The issue was also discussed extensively by a select committee that was formed to look at the electoral laws that need to be harmonised as we draw closer to the tripartite elections.

Willie Kalonga
Chief Elections Officer

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