MESN Verification Statement on Partial Official Results announced by the MEC
Delivered in Blantyre – 24 May 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, last night at 10 pm on 23 May the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) announced partial official results for the presidential election. The Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN), as part of it comprehensive observation effort for the 2014 Tripartite Elections, conducted a Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) exercise to verify the accuracy of the official results for the presidential election as announced by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
Under this initiative, MESN deployed 800 trained and accredited PVT Observers to a representative random sample of polling stations located of 800 polling stations, representing more than 1.3 million registered voters, located across all three regions, all 28 districts and all 193 constituencies.
The PVT methodology is based upon well-established and widely-accepted statistical principles. PVT’s are a common tool of citizen observer and have been conducted across Africa, including: Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. The PVT is not new to Malawi. The methodology was used here in 1999 and 2009 – in both cases the PVT verified the accuracy of the official results.
The PVT is based solely upon the official results announced at sampled polling stations. As previously reported by MESN, at over 85% of polling stations the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the People’s Party (PP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) had party agents present and signed the official results form for the presidential election (MEC.060c) signifying they agreed with the announced results.
PVT Observers did not count any ballot papers themselves nor did they ask any voter whom he/she had voted. The PVT did not rely on any information from print or electronic media. It is an entirely independent exercise conducted solely by MESN with the intent of providing independent information on the accuracy of the official result of the presidential election regardless of the outcome.
MESN has analysed the partial official results released thus far by the MEC. The results from the 30 percent of polling stations announced by the MEC track closely with the data from the PVT when the response rate by region and district is taken into account. Malawians should have confidence that the results released thus far from the MEC are an accurate reflection of those polling stations that have been tallied.
However, the distribution of the polling stations announced by MEC is not representative of the entire country. Results from more polling stations in Northern and Southern region have been processed than for Central region. Thus, the final official results to be announced by the MEC are likely to be different from the partial results released by the MEC on 23 May.
Based on reports from 795 of its 800 PVT Observers, MESN can state with 99% confidence that when the MEC announces the final and official results for the presidential election:
Prof. Peter Mutharika should receive between 32.7% and 39.3% of the vote;
Dr. Lazarus Chakwera should receive between 25.1% and 31.7% of the vote;
Dr. Joyce Banda should receive between 18.2% and 21.8% of the vote;
Atupele Muluzi should receive 11.9% and 15.5% of the vote; and
The remaining 8 presidential candidates combined should receive between 1.2% and
3.0% of the vote.
MESN’s PVT data also shows that the final turnout figure for the presidential election will be between 68.7% to 72.5% (of which between 1.4% and 2.0% of ballots will be declared null and void because the voter’s intention could not be clearly determined).
The estimates provided by MESN are not the official results for the presidential election. Only the MEC can announce official results. However, MESN’s estimates are exclusively based on the official results as announced by MEC presiding officers at a representative random sample of polling stations as recorded by MESN PVT Observers.
MESN is sharing this information because despite the challenges experienced so far with the 2014 Tripartite Elections the integrity of the process has not been fundamentally undermined. While there were problems with the delivery of polling materials that resulted in the late opening of polling stations and there have been serious delays with the tallying process, there is no evidence to suggest that these are more than logistical issues. MESN also believes it is important to release this information at this time to provide the Malawian people with an accurate and independent picture given concerns raised by various interested parties.
MESN calls on all political parties, candidates and Malawians to be calm and to show political restraint as the MEC continues to tally the results from the 4,445 polling stations and announces the official results for the presidential elections.