Bahrain elections to use automated voting machines
Manama, June 23, 2014
Automated voting machines could be used for the first time in Bahrain during national elections later this year, it has emerged.
Officials hope they would speed up the process when people cast their ballots in parliamentary and municipal council polls expected to take place in November, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, the counting of ballots would still be done by hand, said Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission president Abdulla Hassan Al Buainain.
He revealed authorities may also include an option allowing voters to choose "none of the above" when selecting from a list of candidates - allowing people to express their dissatisfaction while still taking part in the process.
Meanwhile, those who cast their ballots will once again have their passports stamped with the official election logo to prevent them casting multiple votes.
"We are studying the possibility of using automated voting machines for the upcoming elections," confirmed Al Buainain.
"This will not only ease the process, but make it quicker as within a couple of minutes a voter can cast his ballot - cutting down queues."
Since Bahrain's parliament and municipal councils were reformed in 2002, voters have selected their candidates with pen before depositing their slips in ballot boxes.
The automated system would allow them to choose their candidate using a touch screen before printing out ballot papers and manually depositing them.
Voters would receive two printed ballot papers - one for parliament and another for the municipal council elections, which they would drop in respective transparent boxes.
People would have to insert their ID card in a special reader to find out if they are eligible to vote.
However, any voter wrongly rejected by the system would be able to complain to the presiding judge, who could then refer to the electoral register before allowing them to cast their ballot.
"If the person's name is enrolled in the voter list they will see a message that states: 'You are eligible to vote,'" said Al Buainain.
"The system then goes to the second stage where the person has to make a choice of a candidate."
If the machines are used they will be set up at 50 polling stations across Bahrain's five governorates.
However, Mr Al Buainain said it was not the same as electronic voting - since all ballots would still be counted manually.
"This is not 'e-voting' but an automated voting system that is user-friendly and is used in some countries during their elections," he explained.
He also said a final decision on whether to use the system had not yet been taken.
"If it is decided to use the automated voting system, it will also be set up at Bahraini embassies and diplomatic missions abroad for citizens living or travelling abroad to cast their ballots," he said.
More than 318,000 Bahrainis were eligible to cast their vote in elections in 2010 when authorities reported a turnout of "at least 67 per cent".
"We have the experience and are looking forward for a fair election that will be held according to international standards," added Al Buainain. - TradeArabia News Service