Home / World / But election group condemns decision – New Zimbabwe.com

But election group condemns decision – New Zimbabwe.com

But election group condemns decision
18/06/2017 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
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THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) says the decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to scrap special voting in the 2018 elections is an infringement of voters` rights.

In previous polls, members of the security forces, who would be on duty during the voting day would cast their ballots ahead of members of the public.

However, the process was a logistical nightmare for the electoral body as they had to track down all the officers scattered all over the country.

There has always been speculation that the ruling party has been using the special vote to rig elections by coercing members of the security to vote in its favour.

Addressing a workshop for senior police officers on Electoral Laws and Policing Elections in Zimbabwe in Harare on Wednesday, ZEC boss Justice Rita Makarau was quoted saying the introduction of Biometric Voter Registration would eliminate the special voting process.

“All officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and all officers of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission deployed away from home on polling day will not be able to vote.

“Special voting or early voting has gone, which means that each and every one of us has got to be in their ward and at home or near home on polling day,” said Justice Makarau.

In response, ZESN said this would disenfranchise those who will be on official business on election day.

“ZESN believes that there is need to reconsider reinstating the special vote as it enables electoral officials and the security officials on duty on election day to vote in advance.

“Although ZESN is cognisant of the various logistical and management challenges that characterised the previous special vote, the Network believes that special vote was a positive development in ensuring the right to vote and secrecy of the ballot,” said the organisation.

ZESN said besides reinstating special voting, the electoral body must open it up to other members of society who are unable to vote on polling day for various reasons.

“It is imperative for the Commission to draw lessons from previous experiences and other jurisdictions such as Botswana and South Africa,” the group added.

“In South Africa, the special vote is not only available to election officials and security personnel but also to persons with disabilities, pregnant voters, the media and any other voters who can prove that they are unable to get to the polling station on the day.”

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The organisation also called on ZEC “to speed up the process of deploying the voter registration process in light of the various challenges that registering voters during the rainy season might present.”

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