The original Dhivehi article was published on Vfp.mv website on 19th July 2018.
The following is a loose translation:
This year’s presidential election is to be held on the 23rd September 2018. And many are keen to see its related arrangements. While many had assumed that voters rights will be widely respected, many were left baffled when the elections commission decided to keep ballot boxes only in fewer resorts.
When elections commission released the list of voting booths on 15th of this month, the elections commission has said that only 7 resorts will have ballot boxes. While in 2013, ballot boxes were kept in every resort with more than 100 people registered to vote, this year the decision was to keep ballot boxes only in resorts that register more than 250 people to vote through the resort.
This decision invited a torrent of backlash. Many said the EC’s actions were government influence. The opposition reasoned that this is because in the election in 2013 where President Abdulla Yameen lost majorly in the resort votes in the first round and his failure to deliver his promise of giving shares of resorts to all resort workers.
Although he pledged to distribute shares to resort workers, in 2013 when there were ballot boxes in 42 resorts, in the first round of the vote, 5926 resort workers voted and former President Mohamed Nasheed got 56.7% of the vote, while President Yameen got 18.8% of the vote.
And as for the criticisms against the EC, the commission ‘diverted’ them to resort’s management. Or to the resort owners.
According to the EC, the decision to place ballot boxes in 7 resorts was based on 2013’s experience and due to lack of support from the resorts.
While in the Maldives there are currently 132 resorts in operation, 112 resorts of them employ more than 100 Maldivian workers. In 2013, while there 42 ballot boxes placed in resorts, more than 60 resorts with more than 100 Maldivian employees were left without ballot boxes.
Therefore, there could be weight in the what the EC had said regarding the resorts lack of support.
Along with the criticisms, the EC had once again decided to place ballot boxes in resorts where there are more than 100 Maldivian workers. However, with a precondition; that is if the resort agrees to place it in that respective resort.
They say the tourism industry is the goose that lays the ‘golden egg’ for the Maldives. Therefore, these employees are the largest asset of the biggest contributor to the economy.
There exists some extent of the heresy of how Maldivians get discriminated in some resorts. Therefore, in something colossal like the presidential election, where the whole country’s future is at stake, this time we will get to see how resort management and resort owners respect their staff’s basic voting right.
This year’s election will also reveal where Maldives resorts stand individually based on how they respect the resort worker’s voting right, which would also tell how they value the worker’s basic rights.