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Unpacking ECN’s voter registration numbers

Photo courtesy: Namibia Fact Check

As the elections of 27 November 2019 approached the electoral commission released different registered voter figures, causing some confusion. We looked at some of these numbers and the chronology of their release.

 

By the time Namibia voted in the 27 November 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections there were 1 358 468 Namibians eligible to vote, with 820 227 voting in the National Assembly election and 826 198 voting in the presidential election.

However, for a while the actual number of eligible voters was somewhat confusing as the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) released different figures in public in the months leading up to the elections.

To start off with, in April 2019 it was reported that the ECN was targeting to register 300 000 “new voters”.

Then in June 2019, it was reported that the ECN was targeting 240 000 “new voters”.

Then, immediately following the July 2019 supplementary voter registration period, it was reported that the ECN had registered about 200 000 voters, no longer just “new voters”, during supplementary registration.

On 1 August 2019, the ECN issued a statement in which it reported that 256 564 voters had been registered in July’s supplementary registration.

And then, finally, on 3 November 2019, the ECN released another statement, titled ‘Final Statistics of National Voters Register‘, which indicated that 271 193 voters had been registered in July 2019.

The ECN stated at the time:

“Of these, 123 448 were new applicants and 147 745 were voters making corrections to their details.”

This final tally brought the voters register up to eligible 1 358 468 voters for the late November 2019 elections.

In the wake of so many different registered voter estimates and actual figures having been publicly released over the months leading up to the elections, many questioned the wisdom of the ECN engaging in a communication exercise that mainly seemed to create confusion in public and distrust in the ECN itself.

The ECN’s communication troubles around numbers have also been well noted in the days before, during and after the 27 November 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections.

 

 

6th December 2019

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