Postal Voting: Everything You Need To Know

How To Make Your Mark On The Ballot Paper
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As Zimbabwe heads towards 30 July, ZEC prepares for those who will conduct Postal Voting.

A separate process to the one Zimbabweans will experience at the polls, you might be wondering just what it means. Below Go Zim provides some answers to a few questions you might have.

First off, the process for Postal Voting is outlined in the Electoral Law, as described by Big Saturday Read:

Postal voting is regulated by the Constitution and Part XIV of the Electoral Act. The usual rules provided for in the Constitution and the Electoral Law apply, specifically, the principle of secrecy of the vote and freedom of choice, which are the most critical in the electoral process.

The rules for postal voting are designed to ensure that these rights are protected. Naturally, since this is part of the electoral process, postal voting must be open to observation and monitoring by interested parties and observers. This is to ensure that electoral rules are upheld and respected. This is in line with the constitutional principles outlined in section 3 of the Constitution, which include an electoral system based on universal adult suffrage and equality of votes as well as free fair and regular elections and transparency.

First up, you might be wondering who is eligible for postal voting?

Postal Voting is only optional for those who are unable to vote on polling day due to official State duties which will take them away from their registered Polling Station. This includes soldiers and police officers who will be on duty on the day, as well as civil servants who will be performing duties as electoral officers. Government officials who will be on government business outside Zimbabwe (and their spouses) are also eligible for postal voting.

However, they must all be registered voters and apply through ZEC.

So how does one apply?

Any of the above persons who wish to use postal voting needs to apply to the Chief Elections Officer:

That process is outlined in Section 73 of the Electoral Act. However, for members of disciplined forces, the application is made on their behalf by their commanding officers.

In all cases, the application must include a certified copy of the applicant’s national registration certificate. (Party election agents scrutinising the process must check whether applications, including those submitted by commanding officers for members of the disciplined forces, have these certified voter registration certificates’ copies).

However, applications closed 28 June 2018, 14 days day after nomination day as stated by the law.

According to ZEC, 7200 applications for postal voting were submitted:

It has also stated, correctly, that these applications will be processed and any that do not comply with the law, such as where the person is not registered, will be excluded. (It is important for parties to make sure that this has been done and to make a note of any applications that have been rejected).

But What About Monitoring Postal Voting?

According to the Electoral Law, below is a list of provisions that have been made to help in the monitoring of postal voting:

  • The Chief Elections Officer must keep a record of first, all the applications for postal voting; second, all postal ballots issued to voters and to permit these lists to be inspected without charge by members of the public.

  • Furthermore, every name of a person to whom postal voting has been allowed should be crossed off the voters roll supplied to each polling station. The law requires that voters roll must indicate the letters “P.V.” to signify that they have been granted postal voting.

  • In addition, all postal votes received by the Chief Elections Officer must remain unopened until the counting stage at the relevant polling station. They will only be opened in the presence of all parties that are legally required to be present at the counting of votes. Agents are allowed to object to postal votes if there are any irregularities.

Is the Postal Voting Procedure the Same as Normal Voting?

According to Big Saturday Read, this is not the case:

It is not the normal voting process where a person gets a ballot paper and marks his or her choice before dropping it in a ballot box. Rather, the ballot is placed in sealed and marked envelopes, which will only be opened at the polling station after the Chief Elections Officer has distributed them upon receipt. All postal ballots must be received no later than 14 days before the main polling date, in this case, no later than 16 July 2018. (It is important, therefore, for party election agents and election observers to ensure that the specific voting process stated in sections 74 and 75 is complied with).

The Saturday Big Read outlines a few other issues surrounding Postal Voting – you can click here to read it.

Go Zim encourages every voter to be vigilant during the election process and report any suspicious activity to the ZEC.

To protect voters, the ZEC has outlined the measures that will will be implemented to counter voter intimidation and election violence. You can read about that here.

Go Zim, get out and vote. We will see you at the polls on 30 July!

Source: Saturday Big Read

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