Electoral act summarised 3

In this new series Magari Mandebvu explains the constitutional provisions that govern the holding of elections in Zimbabwe. This supreme law of the land details exactly how the government of they must seek a mandate to govern from the people. We all need to be aware of just how this is supposed to done.

Text in italics is my explanation. The main text is from the Act, somewhat condensed.

VOTER REGISTRATION FUNCTIONS OF COMMISSION

Voter registration shall be conducted on a continuous basis so as to keep the voters rolls up-to-date.

Any adult citizen shall be entitled, at any time while the voters roll is open, to lodge a claim for registration as a voter or for the transfer of registration  to another constituency, either at a permanent registration office or at a mobile registration when one is operating in the area concerned.

19 Voter registration officers and registration offices

The Electoral Commission can employ voter registration officers for specific areas which can be a single constituency, district or ward or a larger area, and any other staff they may need to assist them. They are supervised by the Commission Anybody who wants to register as a voter voter may approach any of the registration offices of the Commission at any time when the roll is open for registration.

20 Voters rolls to be kept by Commission

The Commission shall keep and maintain in printed and electronic form a voters roll for each polling station area, containing the names of all registered voters who may vote in that area.

A voters roll shall specify, for each registered voter the voter’s first and last names, date of birth, national registration number and sex, residential address and any other information the Commission considers appropriate. The voter registration officer  may ask for this information to find whether a  person is qualified to be registered as a voter or to ascertain the place of residence of any voter or claimant or whether any voter or claimant is dead, to enable the officer to complete an application form.

Every roll shall be kept in both printed and electronic form.

The Commission shall—

(a) keep at least one copy of every voters roll at its head office; and

(b) keep at least one copy of each ward and constituency voters roll at all the Commission’s offices within the constituency concerned:

(c) keep at least one copy of a consolidated national voters roll at its head office and may make consoldated constituency rolls.

but if there is no office of the Commission within a constituency, there will be a constituency registrar who takes charge and custody of the ward and constituency voters roll for his or her constituency.

and

(4a) The Commission may prepare and maintain, in printed or electronic form, a consolidated national voters roll and a consolidated voters roll for any constituency or ward, but such rolls shall not be used for the purposes of polling in any election.

The Act seems to say you must vote at the polling station where you registered. It is certainly safer to vote there to avoid any risk of double voting.

If there is any discrepancy between an electronic copy of a voters roll and a printed copy of a voters roll, the printed copy shall taken as the authentic record of the voters roll.

21 Inspection of voters rolls and provision of copies

Any voter may inspect any voters roll or consolidated roll, free of charge, during ordinary office hours at the office of the Commission or the registration office where it is kept. You may make any notes about it for your own use, but not write on or in any way change the roll itself or remove the roll or any part of it.

The Commission shall provide, for a fee, within a reasonable period of time, a copy of any voters roll, including a consolidated roll, either in printed or in electronic form as the person may request to

any person who requests it, one copy to every political party contesting the election, and to any accredited observer who requests it. These fees must not exceed the reasonable cost of providing the voters roll concerned.

In past elections there have been problems about delivering these copies in time for them to be useful, and about fees, which were very high in some cases.

Within a reasonable period of time after nomination day, the Commission shall provide—

to every candidate, free of charge, one electronic copy of the voters roll to be used in the election for which the candidate has been nominated; and on payment of the prescribed fee, one copy in printed form of the voters roll to be used in the election for which the candidate has been nominated

The electronic copies must be formatted so that its contents can be searched and analysed:

Provided that the roll may be formatted so as to prevent its being altered or otherwise tampered with.

In the 2018 election, these copies could not be sorted do that the user could choose to list voters by name, or address or age and were delivered too late for the these copies to be useful without that possibility of sorting.

The Commission may impose reasonable conditions on the provision of the roll to prevent it from being used for commercial or other purposes unconnected with an election.

We don’t want companies to get copies of the voters’ roll so that they can mail advertising or other material to residents in the area concerned.

The Chief Elections Officer shall, through the appropriate constituency elections officer, supply to every polling station sufficient copies of the voters roll for each polling station area.

So if your polling station does not have enough copies of the rolls to do their job, you know who to complain to.

Any person who obtains a voters roll and adds or subtracts any name or otherwise alters the voters roll with intent to deceive any voter  or without the prior written consent of the Commission, uses the voters roll for commercial or other purposes unconnected with an election is committing an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding level ten or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both.

22A Polling station voters rolls

The Commission shall determine the site of each polling station and the boundaries of the area it serves and  prepare a voters roll for each polling station area containing  the names of all registered voters ordinarily resident within the area.

But where the estimated number of voters to be served by any polling station exceeds the number determined by the Commission to be manageable, the Commission may establish two or more independent polling stations to serve the same polling station area, and the voters’ roll for that area shall be split between such polling stations accordingly.

Does this contradict the principle of one roll to one polling station?

The Commission shall consult all interested parties when determining the siting of polling stations and their areas

Where a voters roll has been prepared for a polling station area voters who are registered on that roll must votes at that polling station.

This should prevent double voting

18 Commission to register voters

The Electoral Commission takes over all the electoral functions performed by the Registrar-General before the 2013 Constitution came into effect, may give instructions to the Registrar-General as responsible for registering Births and Deaths, Citizenship and National Registration, to ensure the efficient, free, fair, proper and transparent conduct of any election or referendum.

The Registrar-General must co-operate with the Commission to ensure that information s/he holds on Births and Deaths, Citizenship and National Registration, are in harmony with each other.

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs or any other Minister who is appointed in his/her place, with the approval of the Commission and after consulting the Registrar-General may make regulations—

on how to deal with any confidential information held by the Registrar-General and how it may be shared with the Commission, on resolving any discrepancies between the records of the Registrar-General and those of the Commission and of any other disputes between these two and  on mandatory automatic and electronic voter registration.

 

 

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