Transparency Maldives (TM) has reported the ongoing Parliamentary Elections are progressing smoothly and are free from issues, with the exception of minor concerns regarding ballot secrecy.

TM, the national chapter of Transparency International, mobilised an extensive network of nearly 270 observers and volunteers stationed across 205 ballot boxes domestically and internationally, including outposts in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the organisation said in a statement.

While TM reports that ballot secrecy has been ensured in 96 percent of polling stations, the organisation has raised valid concerns about the potential compromise of ballot secrecy in the remaining four percent of polling stations due to their layout. These stations will be under close scrutiny by TM observers, the organisation said.

The commencement of polling was reported to be smooth, with 89.3 percent of polling stations operational by 8:10 a.m. and all stations up and running before 9:00 a.m. TM confirmed that nearly all polling officials were present at their respective stations, and all necessary voting materials were available. An impressive 99 percent of ballot boxes were verified as empty at the commencement of polling, it added.

Candidate representatives and party observers have a strong presence across all polling stations, with one or more observers present at 93.7 percent of the polling stations, according to TM. A visible police presence was reported outside 95 percent of the observed polling stations at the time of opening.

The organisation called on all parties to maintain the peaceful climate that has characterised the polling so far and encouraged the public to exercise their democratic right to vote. It added that TM observers will remain stationed at the polling stations until the polling concludes and the results are announced.

Meanwhile, the Elections Commission (EC) confirmed that the voting process is progressing smoothly and transparently. The EC reported no significant concerns or complaints at this stage. However, EC spokesperson Hassan Zakariyya noted a few instances where voters displayed their ballot papers and depositing them in the box without folding.

The election features a field of 386 candidates vying for the 93 seats in parliament. The EC reports that 284,663 individuals are eligible to vote in this election. Polling commenced at 8 a.m. and is scheduled to continue until 5:30 p.m., with provisional results expected to be announced later in the evening.