I strongly believe, like most, that the Elections Commission of the Maldives has failed in its responsibility to setup a proper electoral register. Despite the 'thumbs up' given by international observers, I personally believe otherwise. The process should have started much earlier than it did, giving the Commission time to smooth out kinks in the system.
Most people complained about having to register to vote. It could be because the importance of this wasn't impressed enough upon the public by the responsible parties.
I agree it was more than a bit of a hassle. But having a registered voter database is perhaps more important than an election itself, especially in terms of catch phrases such as 'free and fair'. Two very critical reasons may be identified for registration. One, it is an opportunity to verify the eligibility of voters and two, it controls the legitimacy of the balloting process.
The latter reason may be harder for some to understand. It simply means ensuring that each registered voter gets to vote once and only once. The key factors to understand here are, 'registered voter' and 'vote once'. The electoral system must be challenged if cases of fraud or vote rigging surfaces. Thus, having a thorough and comprehensive electoral register is critical not just to evade potential lawsuits or civil uprisings following an election, but to ensure that the people are given the opportunity to participate in free and fair elections.
The right to vote is the most fundamental form of participation and contribution by the masses in the democratic process. No other opportunity involves the public at large.
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