Stage set for municipal polls

By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: Dec. 24: Eligible Omani citizens will head to polls on Sunday to elect members to the country’s different municipal councils for the second term. The number of registered voters this year stand at 623,224, registering a rise of around 100,000 from the last election in 2012. The voting process will start at 7 am and continue until 7 pm. While Omanis residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have already cast their ballots at the embassies in the respective countries, voters from Dhofar and Musandam governorates residing in Muscat Governorate and nearby wilayats also exercised their franchise at the electoral centre in Muscat.
Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal al Busaidy, Minister of Interior, reviewed the arrangements at the polling centres in a meeting held with the head and members of the main election committee on Thursday.
New state-of-the-art machines are being used for the first time in the elections.
“This will help announce the results the same day itself as the machines will automatically count the votes,” said a member of the election committee.
A total of 731 candidates will contest for 202 seats across Oman, of whom 708 are males and 23 females.
The final results will be announced live via the election website and a mobile app. The holding of municipal councils is part of the Sultanate’s policy based on the involvement of citizens in supporting efforts of the government in achieving comprehensive development of the country.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior has announced its readiness for the elections with all the polling stations fully prepared to receive voters.
The elections will be held in 107 polling stations, 18 for male voters and 18 for women, and 71 polling stations for both male and female voters.
Salim bin Hameed al Hajri, head of preparation committee of the Municipal Councils Elections, said that the election committees in all the Sultanate’s 61 wilayats have completed their preparations for the electoral operations.
All members of the election committees have received adequate training to properly handle all election-related operations.
A total of 623,224 nationals are eligible to cast their ballots to elect 731 members for 11 municipal councils in all governorates.
Al Hajri said that the ministry has introduced advanced technologies to ensure smooth election processes.
The ballot boxes provide direct reading of each candidate’s indicators.
Additionally, smart phone applications allow first-hand view of the results as well as electoral processes.
Besides, the ballot boxes ensure high level of secrecy and prevent double voting.
The boxes are fitted with advanced software that are designed to protect voters’ privacy.
First-hand electronic counting process will be conducted as the first stage of counting during which the results won’t appear to the public.
In the second stage the votes will be counted electronically by the heads of the counting committees in the wilayats by using built-in memory cards and specialised counting software which enables the user to verify the rejected ballots.
The counting results will be sent electronically to the head of the election committee and then to the head of the main election committee for approval, Al Hajri said.
(With ONA inputs)