Preliminary Statement Regarding the Opening of Polling Stations and the Beginning of the Voting Process Issued by the National Centre for Human Rights

Date: November 9
10:00 am

On Tuesday, November 9, 2010 the National Team for Observing the Electoral Process led by the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) began monitoring the Election Day procedures. These began with the opening of polling centres and the voting process by citizens in order to elect the representatives of the sixteenth House of Deputies. The process will end with the counting, tabulation and announcement of election results. All around the Kingdom, 1,260 male and female electoral observers were deployed among 1,200 polling stations. This covered 35% of the total number of polling centres assigned for citizens to cast their ballot. The aim is to monitor the process of the Election Day. The observers began sending their updates on major incidents to the NCHR’s Operation Room which was established to follow-up and monitor the developments of the electoral process.

The National Team tasked to monitor the electoral process has noted that the majority of polling centres were open to receive citizens who had come to exercise their right to vote at 7:00 am, which is the time specified in the Election Law, with the exception of 5% of the centres at which the observers were present.

The NCHR acknowledges the responsiveness of voting and counting committees to the directives of His Excellency the Prime Minister to allow the members of the National Team to enter polling centres in order to observe the procedures of the electoral process. It also appreciates the responsiveness of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) to its request to allow observers to bring in their mobile phones to the polling centres on the morning of the Election Day in order to facilitate the electronic observation process. However, it regrets that some heads of certain voting committees have not complied with the instructions given to them and have prohibited observers from entering polling centres up until 9:00 am, which hindered the work of the observers. In addition, some observers were prevented from re-entering the polling stations after having gone out to transmit preliminary information to the NCHR’s operation room regarding the opening polling stations.

The Team has noted that over 98% of voting committees complied with the requirement of displaying the names of candidates for each district at polling stations.

In addition, the National Team made several observations, most important of which are the following:

  1. The registration numbers of the ballot boxes in two polling stations did not correspond with the numbers that were previously announced in local newspapers.
  2. Around 30% of the voting and counting committees failed to count ballot papers before the start of the voting process (all polling centres in the governorate of Zarqa, and five polling centres in the Capital) as provided by MOI. In addition, the count of ballot papers by some committees has demonstrated discrepancies between the actual numbers of ballots and the number announced by MOI.
  3. Electoral campaigning continued and campaign materials were distributed inside more than 8% of polling centres.
  4. Instructive signs pointing to the locations of polling centres were not available in more than 37% of polling centres.
  5. Complaint forms for candidates and their representatives were lacking in 33% of polling centres.
  6. A considerable number of individuals declared themselves to be illiterate and casted their vote in a public and clear manner in a number of governorates. The votes of these individuals were validated. This note has been passed to the MOI in order to take the necessary measures.The NCHR emphasizes the necessity of taking appropriate measures to stop this phenomenon from spreading and negatively impacting the integrity of the electoral process.

It is worth noting that the Higher Election Committee has decided to adopt the procedure of cutting the tip of ID cards to prove that a voter has cast his or her ballot. This prevents multiple voting by the same individual and guarantees the integrity of the electoral process.

The NCHR would like to state that its operation room for monitoring the electoral process is open to representatives of all local, Arab, and international media, newspapers, websites, and TV channels.