After votes were cast in the Malawi Parliamentary and Presidential elections yesterday, the long task of counting began at each station.

Official results differ from those available more rapidly on the radio because they are complete counts, watched by Party Monitors and agreed by officials present at the Polling Station.

The official count is made at each and every Polling Station where votes are made.

There is extensive scrutineering , and many queries must be settled, which takes time.

At the Tally Room, we collect Official results by constituency, rather that individual Polling Station. This too allows delivery to us only when the last Stations within a constituency have been settled and duly reported to the District Commissioner. Thus, the first Official Results did not arrive at the Comesa Hall Tally Room until 10:30 this morning, which was longer than we had anticipated.

We have spoken with the District Commissioners, and the majority of them report that they are only waiting on one, two or three Stations, so we are hopeful of them more definitive results tomorrow.

Once results arrive at the Tally Room the officer sending the fax is called back, and the numbers on the sheet are verified. It is then stamped. A desk double-checks the arithmetic, then four copies of the result are made, for data entry, for observers and media, of the Commissioners and finally for records.

Once the information is captured, a printout is prepared and, given to a checking desk, which includes an auditor, where it is crosschecked against the original. If it doesn’t tally, there’s an enquiry desk, but if it does, it is accepted as correct printout and given to Commissioners for endorsement.

From that point, result becomes public and is displayed on the walls of the Tally Room, projected onto a video screen and copies of the facsimiles are available for inspection.

The process in seen by some to be frustratingly slow, however it is vital to get results right, and speed is less important than accuracy. We anticipate a final result during Saturday afternoon, but will be unable to confirm this until all results are received.

Chief Elections Officier, MEC