Friday, 4 October 2013

Some criminal offences during registration

Registration is now in the fifth phase and is covering Mangochi Town Council, Mangochi, Ntcheu and constituency Dedza South, Dedza North and Dedza East constituencies. As we progress several incidences have occurred whereby people have found themselves on the wrong side of the law. We all know that ignorance of the law is no defense, therefore, there is need to remind each other of some of the electoral offenses so that we can avoid being found on the wrong side of the law.

1.    It is an offence to give false information so that you are allowed to register as a voter. If you are you are underage and present false information that shows you are of age to register, you can be arrested for an electoral offence. Those who are not above 18 or will not have attained the age of 18 on the voting day, May 20, 2014 should not attempt to cheat.

2.    It is a criminal offence to register more than once. The system used by Malawi Electoral Commission has a capacity to detect multiple registrants. Some are tempted to register more than once just because they lost their certificate and they wanted to have another one so that they can vote. When you have lost your certificate you need to present your issue to the centre you registered during voter verification and the registration supervisor will assist you with a replacement voter certificate. Several people who have been arrested for this offence have given very innocent reasons like I lost my certificate and I wanted a replacement. But these are not enough to exonerate the offence of multiple registration.

3.    Preventing an eligible voter from registering is an offence. Everyone including parents should be cautious on this. Some for political, religious or any other reason best known to themselves, may decide to threaten or intimidate their children from registering. This is an offence.

4.    Inciting disturbance at a registration centre is an offence. A registration centres needs to be a secure place free from violence. Violence may scare other people from coming to register and this why the  Commission places Police officers in all registration centres. Apart from ensuring that materials are safe, the police officers also work to see that registration is done in a peaceful environment.

5.    Selling or buying a voter certificate is an offence. Both the buyer and the seller are liable to prosecution. A vote is a precious right as such it should not be given value of any amount of money or material.
6.    It is an offence to be found in possession of registration certificates of which you are not the rightful owner. The general public should know that it is their responsibility to keep their voter registration certificate safe. No one should cheat them to surrender the voter certificate for safe keeping. If they come across anyone intimidating or coercing them to surrender their certificates, for whatever reason, they should report such people to the police.

The general public should know that the offences highlighted above are serious and attract a fine of up to K500,000 or two year sentence in case of default.

Feedback and questions:
Facebook: Malawi Electoral Commission
Twitter: electionsmalawi
phone 0999274304; 0888870092

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