x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

No ID card, no vote, election rules say

Government plans measures to monitor the ballot, which will include the use of fingerprinting to verify identity of voters.

ABU DHABI // Emiratis will have to be registered at the Emirates Identity Authority in order to vote in September's elections.

More than 80,000 Emiratis are expected to make their mark in the Federal National Council (FNC) poll.

Those who will be allowed to vote will have their names published at www.uaenec.ae on July 11.

More than one polling station will be available in most emirates. In Abu Dhabi emirate, stations will be open in Al Ain, the Western Region and Abu Dhabi city.

The centres will include a waiting area, a film screening on how to vote and a training area where volunteers will ensure voters are on the electoral roll. Voters will also be fingerprinted to verify their identity.

"A person has to vote himself, not come with someone else's ID," said Tariq Lootah, the undersecretary of the Ministry of State for FNC affairs.

"We must make sure they are the same people and take their fingerprints, which are already registered in the EIDA."

Anyone without an Emirates ID card would not be allowed to vote, regardless of whether they were on the electoral roll, he said.

He stressed that all Emiratis need to keep their information up to date at EIDA, so they can be easily contacted if selected to vote.

Emiratis can only vote at a polling centre in their emirate, and only for candidates running to represent their emirate.

No provision will be made for absent voters, even if they are out of the country, said Saeed Al Ghafli, the Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of State for FNC affairs. Mr Lootah said it was important for the selected Emiratis to know the difference between a candidate and a voter.

He said that "at the last elections, people thought when names were out that they were automatically members" of the FNC.

"Then we had to make advertisements to tell people, no, your names on the list only means you can either elect or run for election."

Polls will be open from 8am until 7pm on election day, and the winners will be announced within an hour of polls closing.

Voting will be electronic, but voters will also be given a printout of their vote to put in a ballot box. "This way, if there is a technical problem with the machines, we can hand count the votes," said Mr Lootah.

Although the locations of polling stations have not been announced, Mr Al Ghafli said halls at universities, ballrooms, or clubs might be used.

So far, 30 volunteers have been recruited from Takhatuf - the Emirates Foundation's social programme - and the Red Crescent.

They will help at the polling stations.

Ali Al Khouri, the General Manager of EIDA, said the requirement for voters to have an ID card would not be a problem.

He added that 880,000 Emiratis have ID cards and are therefore eligible to vote.