Muscat – Elections for the municipal councils concluded on Sunday evening with 288,469 voters exercising their franchise. Voting, which was conducted via mobile application ‘Intakheb’ for the first time, saw a quick declaration of results soon after the voting closed at 7pm.
Talal al Saadi, rapporteur of the main committee for the elections, said, “Intakheb application reduced the number of election workers from 8,000 to 500. The whole electoral process can now be organised within a week compared to three to four months it required in the past.”
According to the Ministry of Interior, 731,767 Omani voters had registered to elect 126 representatives from among 727 candidates, including 27 women for the third term of the Municipal Council.
Saadi added that the Intakheb app will also be used in the forthcoming Shura Council elections, with some improvements.
The app provides ease of access with accuracy. “The ministry constantly strives to introduce latest technologies in every elections,” said H E Sayyid Hamoud Faisal al Busaidi, Minister of Interior, at the app’s launch recently.
The app was designed on par with the latest security standards, with all precautions in place to ensure secrecy. It operates in the NFC-enhanced smart phones for individuals with a valid identity card for voters listed in the Electoral Register.
Talal bin Saif al Hosni, Governor of Masirah, said, “Electronic voting is a new addition to the electoral process in Oman. The municipal elections will help decentralisation of governance, empower local administration in the governorates and activate community participation in the comprehensive national development as envisioned in Oman Vision 2040.”
For Nasser al Hosni, a voter from Dhofar, the process was smooth. “The e-voting provided the opportunity for the first time to all Omani voters outside the country to cast their votes via their smartphones.”
Similarly for Dr Auhoud al Balushi, an academic based in Muscat, said voting was a breeze. “In less than a minute, through the Intakheb app, I voted for who would represent me in the municipal council. The process was so easy and smooth.”
Dr Auhoud also lauded women’s participation in the political process. “Their participation was robust in the previous municipal council elections and in the Majlis A’Shura polls. Their participation was in the range of 46-48 per cent,” she said.
Eng Talal Said al Mamari, CEO of Omantel, hailed the e-voting experience, which he described as a fruitful outcome of the government’s efforts to expand the base of society’s participation in this decision making process. He pointed out that the electronic voting provides an excellent example of public-private collaboration in saving time and efforts.