Registration of voters for the 2014 Tripartite Elections starts on July 22, 2013 and will be done in phases starting with the following districts; Nsanje, Neno, Mwanza Chikhwawa and Mbayani, Michiru, South Lunzu, Blantyre City Central and Chilomoni wards in Blantyre City. Each phase will take 14 days which is the legally mandated period for registration.

It is the appeal of the Commission, therefore, to all eligible voters to turn out in time for the registration in time and not wait for the final days. The Commission has mobilized enough equipment and human resources to register all eligible voters within the two-week period and will not anticipate extending the set days for the registration period. There will be only three days transition period from one phase to the other. Extending one period will affect the remaining phases.

Because we will have a Tripartite Election in 2014 whereby voters will elect a ward councillor, a Member of Parliament and the State President, eligible voters are, therefore, encouraged to register in a centre within their ward.

For the 2014 elections, the Commission has decided to conduct fresh registration which means everyone will be required to register. The Commission will be registering everyone who will turn 18 by the polling day which is May 20, 2014. This means everyone who was born before May 20, 1996 will be eligible to register.

Apart from being born before May 20, 1996, eligible voters are supposed to be Malawian citizens or persons who have ordinarily been resident in the country for the past seven years. There are some refugees and asylum seekers who have stayed in the country for more than seven years but these are not eligible to register as they have not been ordinarily resident. They are here because they are seeking asylum. Those who have been ordinarily resident are supposed to provide evidence that they have stayed that long in the country by providing their passport, resident permit or any relevant document that can prove that.

Prisoners are also eligible to register except those who are on the death row. The Commission will open registration centres in all prisons.

A person who has been adjudged or declared to be mentally incompetent is not eligible to register.

Every person is supposed to register once, where a person qualifies to register in two places ie where they were born and where they are residing, they should choose one place to register. Multiple registration is a criminal offence, which, apart from the court sentence, leads to disqualification from registration and participation in that election. This means the person would not participate in an election by either voting or contesting as a candidate.

A person can be disqualified from registration if he or she has been convicted of violation of any law relating to elections as we are preparing for the elections in 2014. However, people who were convicted of electoral offences during the past elections are eligible to register.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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