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Sudan elections commission grants two more days of voting

April 12 - 2010 JUBA

The National Elections Commission announced two additional days of voting in Sudan. NEC Secretary-General Jalal Mohamed Ahmed made the announcement. Radio Dabanga had calculated that a maximum of 8 out of 18 million registered voters would have been able to cast their votes within the originally scheduled timetable for elections, even without delays.

Since the start of the balloting period, hundreds of stations did not even open during the first voting days and the voting also started late on the second day. Despite that, the queues are not very long. That indicates that the turnout is low especially in Northern Sudan. The SPLM asked the National Elections Commission to extend the voting days from three to seven. It received support from the party of President Omar Al Bashir for extension of the voting days. Samson Kwaje, SPLM campaign manager for Salva Kiir, asked for four additional days of voting.

The Governor of Western Equatoria, Jemma Nunu Kumba, cast her votes into 4 ballot boxes, clocking the whole voting process at 15 minutes. She raised the question of how long it would take for somebody who cannot read and write, since majority of the population in the southern states are illiterate. According to trials conducted prior to the elections by the Carter Center, it takes an educated voter 17 minutes to go through the entire process. There are 17,000 polling centers each with maximum 30 opening hours over the originally scheduled three days of voting, amounting to 510,000 voting hours in total. So if polling centers could process one voter every 17 minutes, then only 1.8 million would have been able to vote. But a maximum of three people should be able to vote at a time in each polling station, making the figure 5.4 million. Then one should also consider that in some locations there are two polling stations per polling center, and in North Sudan the voters have to cast fewer ballots.

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