As I was waiting for the girl behind the counter to issue my ballot paper, I overheard the old man behind me in the queue asking whether his name was on the list. From the ensuing conversation I gathered he had gone to another polling station in Henveiru and was told his name was not there. It wasn't there in our polling station either. So the old man, despite being born and brought up in Male and registered in the same Henveiru house all his life and despite having a valid ID card had to go home without voting.
A friend of mine, a 60-year old lady living in Henveiru was luckier. On Election Day morning, she went to the Maafannu polling station where she was guided to go. Her name wasn't there however and she was directed to go to a neighboring station. Fortunately she could vote there.
Another friend, a pre-school teacher, said she had no such problem at all. In fact her name was listed in two different polling stations, one in Galolhu where her father's house is located and one in Machchangolhi where her mother's house is located. Her father's name was also on the list even though he died 13 years ago. She had pointed this out to election officials even last year during the August referendum. But clearly no action has been taken.
There are many anecdotes like this across the Maldives. So obviously there are major problems with the electoral list. Is there a solution to this?
In some countries Election Commissions do not rely solely on national ID cards. Rather they require voters to come and register after supplying proof of citizenship and identity. Even in the Maldives a similar procedure was followed for registering people who wanted to vote outside their home islands. Can we use such a registering process for all citizens to improve the electoral roll?