The Elections Commission (EC) has said it will not interfere in the process of determining invalid votes in the presidential election. The determination is made on site at the polling stations by the head of the station, the commission’s Vice President Ismail Habeeb said while speaking to the press on Tuesday.

While more than 4,000 invalid votes were cast in the first round of the presidential elections on 9 September, many had expressed concern over the criteria used to determine these invalid votes.

“Any actions that could compromise the secrecy of the vote is [deemed] unacceptable. If any additional personal identifying marks are present on the vote slip, it is [highly] unlikely that that would be counted as a valid vote,” Habeeb said, explaining why voters have been instructed to cast their votes in very specific terms.

Habeeb acknowledged that while many complaints of invalidated votes have been sent to EC members with photographs, it is not something that the EC takes direct action over – the processes in place for the elections assign that responsibility to the head of the polling station.

“We will look into it and we will fix it in the second round,” Habeeb said.