The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is processing the recruitment of 106,345 poll workers for the June 21 elections across the nation, it was announced.
Working with 138,655 election officers in more than 50,000 polling stations, the Board intends to raise the number of poll workers in each polling station from three to five. An average of three poll workers have been conducting voter registration at each polling station. This would eventually elevate the number of poll workers to 245,000, Soliana Shimeles, the Communications Advisor to the Board told journalists on May 20, 2021 at a press conference at De Leopol Hotel.
These poll workers will go through trainings in four rounds. Master poll workers will get trained at the center and go to train 200 trainers. Then these trainers give trainings for 2,200 field trainers who would then train the poll workers in 641 constituencies. These trainings include polling station heads and poll supervisors.
This move by the Board comes following the decision by the Board to extend the elections from June 5 to June 21, 2021 because of security reasons as well as logistical challenges.
However, four zones of Wollega (East Wollega, West Wollega, Qellem Wollega and Horo Guduru Wollega), seven constituencies in Somali, Kamashi and Metekel zones of the Benshangul Gumuz region as well as Harari region votes by ethnic Hararis residing out of their region won’t be voting on June 21, 2021.
While the majority of the areas where the polls are not happening concern security issues, the Somali and Harari cases have separate reasons. Because of repeated complaints from political parties about irregularities during voter registration, including voter cards being given to illegible people, the Board suspended voter registration in seven constituencies. Soliana said that even if it were one polling station in a constituency that faced complaints, the whole constituency hosting the station would be suspended.
So, because of contestations in these constituencies, a team comprised of 10 legal experts both from the Board and independent experts, was dispatched to those constituencies to assess whether it is possible to conduct the polls. Based on their recommendations, the Board will make the final call.
On the other hand, the case of the right of Hararis living out of their region to vote for the Harari National League, a separate entity within the regional council, was a point of departure between the Board and the Harari regional government. Following the Board’s decision not to uphold the tradition of allowing Hararis living outside of their region to vote for their League, the Harari regional government took the matter to the court. The Supreme Court reversed the Board’s decision allowing the Hararis to vote for their League. The Board appealed to the Cassation Bench and is waiting for a decision; hence, their vote is not happening along with the other parts of the country on June 21.
Within 10 days since the announcement on May 20, ballot papers will be printed and delivered, Soliana said. The transportation of these equipment both for training purposes and polling day activities would take four weeks.
Even though she believes that the results from areas where votes are not happening on June 21 will come before the time to form a government reaches as stipulated on article 58 of the constitution, she is also of the view that the number of these constituencies won’t affect the number of seats required to form a government at the center.
According to the constitution, the term of an elected government (both the Parliament and the executive branch) shall be five years and elections should happen a month prior to the expiry of this term. Although this is the sixth year since the last elections in 2015 because of postponement caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Board plans to achieve this goal in the June 21 votes as the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR) shall convene its first meeting “on Monday of the final week of the Ethiopian month of Meskerem [September] and end on the 30th day of the Ethiopian month of Sene [June],” the constitution declares.