Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: A person can register as a voter after confirming that he/she is a resident in the area of the polling station. Once a person meets this requirement, then he/she should obtain a voter registration card. In case there arises a suspicion that a voter who is not a resident of the locality has been registered, there is a mechanism to sort out the issue. After voter registration is over there will be a 10 days’ time when voters’ registration roster will be open for checking by anyone. Political parties, observers, and civil society organizations can file a complaint. On top of that, voters list is kept in a central database, and the process is in place to identify double voter registration with the help of technology. Thus, the separation of voting dates does not affect the reliability of election, instead it will increase it.
Answer: The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia issued a statement on April 2, 2020. The main purpose of the statement is to announce that it will not be able to hold the election on the scheduled date of August 29, 2020. It has conducted a study to reach this decision. The National Election Board of Ethiopia is accountable to the House of Representatives and has informed the House of Representatives of its decision. It did not give an extended election date but that it could not hold the election due to problems beyond its capacity. The Board can only notify the House of Representatives, to which it reports.
The key decisions of the Board in the statement issued are as follows:
-Realizing that it is not possible to hold the election in accordance with the schedule set by the Board due to COVID- 19, to cancel the schedule, and temporarily suspend tasks to be performed according to the schedule.
-The Board will re-evaluate the situation when the threat of the epidemic subsides and will initiate a new election operation plan.
-The Board must continue to carry out activities that are not threatened by COVID- 19, increase the readiness of the Board to hold an election, and create conditions that will enable the institution to conduct the elections properly when the situation returns to normal;
-That House of Peoples' Representatives recognizes that the Board cannot hold a general election one month before the expiration of its term in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Therefore, if there is any decision to be made in this regard, the Board's survey document should be forwarded to the House of Representatives for use as a starting point.
Answer: The drafted law obliges the election board to formulate guidelines in order to accommodate political parties that were registered under the previous law. Therefore, political parties that were registered before the latest law is issued will be accommodated in and the Board, in consultation with the parties, will formulate a guideline to help them fulfill the criteria
Answer: The Board had notified councils of Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa cities that their voting day will be separate from the national calendar. This is because federal and regional constituencies are separate from each other. Constituencies of city administrations/ regions are decided by the cities or regions themselves, and the Board administers election in constituencies that were determined by the states/city administrations. For example, during the 2005 election, the constituencies from which nominations were made for Addis Ababa City Administration council and the House of Representatives were the same. And ballot counting for the two councils was done side by side. Hence, election officials report the results to the same constituency. However, at the 2008 city council elections, the city government changed the constituencies and formed sub-cities as constituencies, and elections were conducted accordingly. Then after, elections for the city council and the federal councils were held on separate days. The Dire Dawa city administration, in contrast to the federal seat (higher only by 2 seats), has 47 kebeles in it. These Kebeles are used by the city administration as constituencies, thus when a person gives vote, the constituency ballots are cast for a federal seat and regional seat vary. The variation in constituencies makes ballot counting very difficult. It is recalled that the Dire Dawa city election was held separately from the federation.
Answer: The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia is accountable to the House of Representatives. It submits performance reports to the House of Representatives and has no choice but to notify the House of Representatives of its decision. In accordance with its responsibilities, the Board did not perform any task outside of its jurisdiction or did not neglect any of its responsibilities within its jurisdiction other than submitting the problem to the House of Representatives and making a research-based decision.
Answer: It is known that the previous criteria for candidacy were to be determined by lot according to number (12) and there were many complaints because it is restricting. Therefore, the new draft is intended to lift the restrictions and accommodate all parties and individuals who are seeking to run for office. The person who collects the candidate supporters’ signatures in the constituency will introduce himself/herself to the community in the process and will prepare for the election campaign. It also eliminates the complaint from the voters saying that they will be asked to vote without even knowing who is representing them. It is a process in which candidates and the people they represent are introduced in a transparent manner and bring candidates who take the election process seriously to the ballot paper.
Answer: The drafted law obliges the election board to formulate guidelines in order to accommodate political parties that were registered under the previous law. Therefore, political parties that were registered before the latest law is issued will be accommodated in and the Board, in consultation with the parties, will formulate a guideline to help them fulfill the criteria.
Answer: The National Electoral Board had a series of meetings with political parties before the timetable was announced. After the consultations, two main issues that could pose challenges were identified. The first one was the challenge the parties are facing that prevents them from moving freely in regions, and second was the security situation in different parts of the country. Based on this assessment, the Board undertook two major tasks to go around the loopholes. One of them is the preparation of an election security plan by the government. During the preparation of the plan, the Board participates to ensure that the plan includes technical information and conditions regarding the election. The second response was setting up a tripartite platform to solve the problems in different regions that were pointed out by parties. Accordingly, tripartite talks have begun to address the problems political parties had spotted. The discussions are held in three regions so far. The ruling party, the regional parties, and the Board dealt with the complaints that were noted by parties and effort is exerted to reach an agreement on possible solutions. The Board believes that these practices will help solve existing problems.
Answer: The constituencies where the electorate cast vote for regional and national councils are different. Therefore, doing both at the same time would create confusion for voters. Election officials count the ballots and would send the result to the relevant constituency. In Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, they count the ballots for different councils and would send the result to two or three constituencies. Reporting to different constituencies could open the door for errors in ballots counting and makes the election administration difficult. Moreover, election officials need to receive special training on counting and reporting results if they have to prepare them for different constituencies. That would increase the pressure on operations and it also needs preparing special result scoring papers and giving additional training to election officials.
Answer: The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is currently working in shifts while implementing social distancing in case of tasks that need to be done collectively and with most of its staff working from home. It will continue to carry out activities that will increase the readiness of the Board's ability to conduct the election properly when the situation returns to normal. Accordingly, it is collecting information on the digital communication of political parties. It also tries to make the communication with the parties as digital as possible.
Answer: It is known that the type of electoral system is determined by the constitution. Therefore, the system of winning the majority is enshrined in the constitution and cannot be repealed by proclamation, so the electoral system in the constitution is kept as it is. Political parties have called for a change in the electoral system, but it could not be changed with a proclamation until the constitution is amended.
Answer: Conducting the referendum of Southwest Ethiopia side by side with the national election makes it much easier and less expensive. As the Board is preparing for the national election, there is not enough time to organize a referendum in advance. In addition, conducting the referendum alongside the national election reduces expenditure that is required to arrange the event by half. Furthermore, the election administration task will be facilitated as the Board can give additional training to election officials on referendum management while coaching them for the national election. Similarly, by printing additional referendum ballot papers for and monitoring voters’ registration process, it will be easier for the board to conduct the referendum.
Answer: The Board has consulted with political parties on the impact of COVID-19 on the election in two rounds of consultations, during which political parties made various comments saying they understand its impact on the electoral process as it is an international crisis, especially in a country like Ethiopia. They also called up on the Election Board to work in consultation with the relevant government bodies. In addition to this, they praised the Board for holding the consultation and suggested that the government's 14-day ban should be considered in the decision-making process. The discussion ended with a consensus and the political party leaders pointed out that the situation should be taken as an opportunity to finding practical solutions for some outstanding political problems and should be used to make adequate preparation for the election as well. This decision could have been made solely by the Board though it is good that the Board consulted the parties. The decision is much closely related to national issue than an issue that is related to one or more political parties. It is assumed that political parties should all work together to overcome a national problem with the magnitude of a pandemic like COVID-19. Although the board intended to hold various additional consultations,
-The first discussion took place on the 3rd day of the first Coronavirus case was found in the country and subsequent restrictions were strengthened and prohibitions could not be violated because various measures have been taken by the regional states as well. Additionally, the Board believes that the parties will understand the dangers imposed by COVID- 19 are very clear.
-The Board stated in a statement that the input from the parties was sufficient and that the Board had used the input as a source of information in the decision making.
Answer: The number of signatures national and regional political parties have to collect is not exaggerated when considering the principles behind. Political parties should have good public base and should have strong ties with it, and they must be representative of the populace.
Although the claim of some parties that it is difficult to collect 10,000 signatures due to the prevailing security problem seems convincing, it is better to remember that when a law is passed, it is not for one year only. The law will be a future abiding document hence it is better to be far-sighted.
Answer: Election officials report only for one constituency. This will prevent an occurrence of errors in counting the result; voters can cast their ballots without any confusion; election observers and journalists as well as party representatives can monitor the election process using their full potential (without scattering their workforce), and they can also verify credibility of the election.
Answer: Recognizing that there is a short time for parties to have their candidates registered, and based on the appeal that signatures collection in the time of COVID-19 epidemic is risky, the Board requested the House of Representatives to exempt parties of this task only for the 6th general election. Though some concerned individuals were asking why the board did not take into consideration the current situation of Covid and the signature collection by parties, the deadline for founding members’ signature collection ended before the epidemic reached in Ethiopia. Thus, it has to be remembered that the time of signatures collection and the Covid pandemic were not related.
Answer: In order to reduce the use of public resources for political party work, which has been the subject of much controversy in the past, the purpose of distancing government employees from their workplace if they are running for office is to separate political party work from government work. The first draft stated that government employees would temporarily quit their jobs without benefits, but based on input from political parties, it was amended to allow civil servants to use their annual leave for up to two years. As a result, the law stipulates that they must not be present at work, even if they receive a salary when they use their annual leave. The law states that a candidate must return to work after running in an election and that his or her benefits must be protected. In addition to the government's support for political parties, parties that field government employees for election have also been added to the criteria. It should be noted, however, that the main purpose of the provision is to ensure that public resources are not used for party purposes.
Answer: Based on past experience, it is to improve the process where nonexistent candidates were being nominated by registering their names only, and it is believed that it will reduce fraud in the registration of party and private candidates.