Preparation and voting at poll

0 1,338

Polling stations

 

EDITOR –  Subject to this section the Commission, after consultation with all interested parties, shall—

 

(a) establish, in each constituency and ward, a sufficient number of polling stations it considers necessary or convenient for taking a poll of the voters in that constituency or ward; and

 

(b) determine the area to be served by each such polling station.

 

(2) Every polling station shall be located in a place that is readily accessible to the public, including persons with physical disabilities.

 

(3) No polling station shall be located—

 

(a) in premises owned or occupied by a political party or candidate; or

(b) in a police station, barracks, cantonment area or other place where police officers or members of the Defence Forces are permanently stationed; or

(c) in premises licensed under the Liquor Act [Chapter 14:12]; or

(d) at or in any place which, for any reason, may give rise to reasonable apprehension on the part of voters as to the secrecy of their votes or the integrity of the electoral process.

 

(4) The Commission shall cause a notice of—

(a) the places at which polling stations are to be established; and

(b) the hours during which the polling stations will be open;

to be published at least three weeks before polling day and again on polling day, in a newspaper circulating in the constituency concerned and in such other manner as it thinks fit.

 

Provision of requisites and officers for purpose of poll

 

(1) For any election, the Commission shall—

(a) appoint sufficient presiding officers and polling officers for the purposes of the poll; and

(b) ensure that every polling station is provided with the polling station voters roll as well as

sufficient polling booths or voting compartments, ballot boxes ballot papers, instruments for marking ballot papers with the official mark, seals and other necessary things and shall do such other acts and things and make such arrangements to facilitate the taking of the poll as the Commission may consider advisable for effectively conducting the election, and the expenditure incurred upon all such acts and things shall be charged upon and paid out of the funds of the Commission, or, to the extent of any insufficiency of the funds of the Commission for this purpose, the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

(2) Where two or more elections are to be held concurrently in a constituency, the Commission shall ensure that the constituency elections officer concerned is provided with separate ballot boxes for each such election.

 

Number of ballot papers and publication of details regarding them

 

(1) The Commission shall ensure that the number of ballot papers printed for any election does not exceed by more than ten per centum the number of registered voters eligible to vote in the election.

 

(2) The Commission shall without delay provide the following information to all political parties and candidates contesting an election, and to all observers—

 

(a) where and by whom the ballot papers for the election have been or are being printed; and

 

(b) the total number of ballot papers that have been printed for the election; and

(c) the number of ballot papers that have been distributed to each polling station.

 

Hours polling stations to be open

 

(1) A polling station shall be open continuously from 7.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. on a polling day:

Provided that if for good cause the constituency elections officer determines that it is not

possible to open a polling station at 7.00 a.m., he or she shall fix such later opening time as will enable him or her to keep the polling station open for at least nine hours continuously on a polling day.

 

(2) For the purpose of fixing the hours in terms of subsection (1), the constituency elections officer may designate some polling stations as urban stations and others as rural stations and may fix different hours for each such station.

 

(3) The presiding officer shall permit every voter who, at the time fixed in terms of this section for the closing of the polling station concerned, is in the queue of persons waiting to cast their votes, to record his or her vote before closing the polling station.

 

The ballot box

 

(1) Not more than thirty minutes before the commencement of the poll at any polling station, or before the commencement of the poll on the first polling day where voting is to take place over two or more days, the presiding officer shall—

 

(a) satisfy himself or herself that the ballot box to be used at the polling station is empty; and

 

(b) show the interior of the empty ballot box to such persons entitled in terms of section

89(1)(b) to attend at the polling station as are present; and

(c) immediately thereafter close and seal the ballot box in accordance with instructions issued by the Commission.

 

(2) If for any reason it becomes necessary at any time during the polling period to use an additional ballot box at any polling station, subsection (1) shall apply, with any changes that may be necessary, before that ballot box is so used.

 

(3) A ballot box closed and sealed as provided in subsection (1) or (2) shall not be opened and the seal shall not be broken except in accordance with section 95.

 

(4) The presiding officer at a polling station shall—

(a) at the close of the poll, or at the close of the poll on each polling day, as the case may be, close and seal the aperture in the ballot box used at the polling station; and

(b) break the seal and open the aperture only for the purpose of counting the votes, or at the commencement of the poll on the next succeeding polling day, as the case may be;

in accordance with instructions issued by the Commission and in the presence of such persons entitled in terms of section 89(1)(b) to attend at the polling station as are present.

 

(5) The ballot box used in or at a polling station shall be placed in a position where it can be seen by the presiding officer or a polling officer designated by him or her at all times during the continuance of the poll.

 

(6) The presiding officer shall be responsible for the safe-keeping of any ballot box used at his or her polling station until it is delivered to the appropriate constituency elections officer.

 

Recording of ballot papers before polling

 

Subject to section 123, before the commencement of the poll at any polling station, or before the commencement of the poll on the first polling day where voting is to take place over two or more days, the presiding officer shall, in the presence of such persons entitled in terms of section 89(1)(b) to be within the polling station as are present, count and record the total number of ballot papers received at the polling station.

 

Conduct of poll

 

(1) The presiding officer and other officers at the polling station shall—

(a) keep order thereat and regulate the number of voters to be admitted at a time; and

(b) exclude all persons other than—

(i) electoral officers present for the performance of their official duties; and

(ii) the candidates; and

(iii) the number of election agents permitted in terms of subsection (2); and

(iv) police officers called into the polling station in terms of subsection (6); and

(v) accredited observers; and

(vi) persons who are recording their votes; and

 

 

(vii) such other classes of persons as may be prescribed.

 

(2) Subject to the requirement under section 136(5) that the Commission is empowered to prescribe that only one election agent representing each political party may be appointed during concurrent elections, each candidate in an election shall be entitled to have one election agent present in the polling station while polling is taking place, and another two such agents outside the polling station, either one of whom may act as a substitute for the first-mentioned agent if for any reason the first-mentioned agent leaves the polling station.

 

(3) Save as is provided in subsection (1), the presiding officer may require any person, other than a person actually recording his or her vote, to leave the polling station and—

 

(a) any person who fails to leave the polling station when so required may be arrested on the order of the presiding officer and shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment;

 

(b) any person empowered by law to make arrests shall carry out an order of the presiding officer in terms of paragraph (a).

 

(4) The powers conferred by subsections (1) and (3) shall not be exercised so as to prevent any voter who is entitled to vote at a polling station from having an opportunity of voting at that polling station.

 

(5) For the purpose of keeping order at a polling station and the area surrounding it, every electoral officer at the polling station shall have the powers of a peace officer under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07].

 

(6) A presiding officer may call upon a police officer for assistance in keeping order at the polling station and the area surrounding it, and every police officer so called upon shall provide whatever assistance is needed.

 

(7) The Commissioner-General of Police shall ensure that sufficient numbers of police officers are available in the immediate vicinity of each polling station to provide immediate assistance if called upon in terms of subsection (6).

 

(8) Police officers referred to in subsection (7)—

 

(a) shall have the sole function of maintaining order and preventing contraventions of the law so that voters may freely cast their votes;

(b) shall not interfere with the electoral processes at a polling station;

(c) shall not enter a polling station except when called upon for assistance in terms of subsection

 

(6) or to cast their votes in accordance with this Act;

(d) when inside a polling station, shall exercise their duties under the direction and instruction of the presiding officer.

(9) The presiding officer shall record in detail every incident in which order at the polling station and the area surrounding it was disrupted and, in particular, every occasion in which a person was expelled or required to leave the polling station or its surrounding area in terms of this section.

 

 

 

 

Counting and rejection of votes

 

(1) Votes shall be counted at polling stations in the manner set out in this section.

(2) Where two or more ballot boxes have been used to hold the ballots cast in a single election, the ballot papers in those ballot boxes shall be counted together.

(3) Where two or more elections are being conducted concurrently in a polling station and, during the counting of ballot papers, a valid ballot paper is found which a voter should have placed in a ballot box for any of the other elections—

 

(a) if the ballot papers for that other election have not yet been counted, the ballot paper shall be added to the appropriate ballot box and counted along with them;

 

(b) if the ballot papers in the appropriate ballot box have already been counted, the vote recorded on the ballot paper shall be added to those awarded to the candidate for whom the voter cast his or her vote and, where necessary, the polling station return shall be adjusted accordingly.

 

(4) The presiding officer shall reject and not count any ballot paper—

(a) which does not bear his or her official mark; or

(b) which has not been marked by the voter; or

(c) whose serial number does not correspond with those of ballot papers issued to the polling station concerned; or

(d) which does not indicate with certainty the candidate for whom the voter intended to vote:

 

Provided that the fact that a voter has indicated the candidate otherwise than by means of a

cross shall not in itself be a reason for rejecting the ballot paper.

 

(5) Where—

(a) the number of ballot papers in a ballot box; or

(b) the aggregate number of ballot papers in the ballot boxes used in an election, where two or more ballot boxes have been used to hold the votes cast at a polling station in a single election; exceeds the aggregate of the number of votes recorded as having been cast at the polling station in the election and the number of external ballot papers and special ballot envelopes inserted in the box or boxes concerned, the presiding officer shall re-examine all the ballot papers in the box or boxes and reject any ballot paper which does not comply with subsection (4).

 

(6) Where the presiding officer rejects a ballot paper under subsection (4) or (5) he or she shall—

 

(a) mark it “Ballot from an unknown source” and place it together with any other such ballot papers in a packet marked “Ballots from an unknown source”; and

(b) enter the particulars of the ballot paper on a list, which he or she shall enclose in the packet referred to in paragraph (a).

 

(7) Subject to subsection (5), the presiding officer—

(a) shall not reject ballot papers solely on the ground that they do not bear his or her official mark, where the aggregate number of such ballot papers does not exceed five per centum of the votes validly cast at the polling station in the election concerned;

 

(b) shall reject all the ballot papers that do not bear his or her official mark where the aggregate number of such ballot papers exceeds five per centum of the votes validly cast at the polling station in the election concerned, unless all the candidates and election agents at the polling station agree not to reject them.

 

(8) Where a presiding officer—

(a) rejects a ballot paper as invalid, he or she shall endorse “Rejected” on it and place all such ballot papers in a packet which he or she shall seal with his or her seal and with the seals of any candidates and election agents who wish to affix their seals:

 

Provided that, if a candidate or election agent objects to the rejection of a ballot paper, the

presiding officer shall add to the endorsement “Rejection objected to” and shall place all such ballot papers together in an envelope within the packet containing the rejected ballot papers;

 

(b) accepts a ballot paper as valid, he or she shall endorse “Acceptance objected to” if a candidate or election agent objects to the acceptance, and shall place all such ballot papers together in an envelope within the packet containing the accepted ballot papers.

 

Procedure after counting at polling station

(1) After the counting is completed the presiding officer shall without delay, in the presence of such candidates and their election agents as are present—

 

(a) close and seal the aperture in the ballot box; and

(b) place the opened external ballot paper envelopes and special ballot envelopes into separate packets which he or she shall seal with his or her seal and with the seals of any candidates and election agents who wish to affix their seals; and

 

(c) record on the polling-station return the votes obtained by each candidate and the number of rejected ballot papers in such a manner that the results of the count for each ballot box are shown on the return; and

 

(d) display the completed polling-station return to those present and afford each candidate or his or her election agent the opportunity to subscribe their signatures thereto; and

(e) provide each candidate or his or her election agent with a copy of the completed polling-station return; and

 

(f) affix a copy of the polling-station return on the outside of the polling station so that it is visible to the public and shall ensure that it remain there so that all members of the public who wish to do so may inspect it and record its contents.

 

(2) Immediately after affixing a polling station return on the outside of the polling station in terms of subsection (1)(f), the presiding officer shall personally transmit to the ward elections officer for the ward in which the polling station is situated—

 

(a) the ballot boxes and packets referred to in sections 94(b) and 96(6) and (8) and subsection

(1)(b) of this section, accompanied by a statement made by the presiding officer showing the number of ballot papers entrusted to him or her and accounting for them under the heads of used ballot papers, excluding spoilt and rejected ballot papers, unused ballot papers, spoilt ballot papers, external ballot papers and special ballot papers; and

 

(b) the polling-station return certified by himself or herself to be correct:

Provided that if, by reason of death, injury or illness, the presiding officer is unable personally to transmit the ballot box, packets, statement and polling station return under this subsection, a polling officer who was on duty at the polling station shall personally transmit these, and in that event any statement or certification required to be made by the presiding officer for the purposes of this section may be made by the polling officer concerned.

 

 

-ZESN 

 

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) formed in 2000 is a coalition of 36 non-governmental organisations formed to co-ordinate activities pertaining to elections. The major focus of the Network is to promote democratic processes in general and free and fair elections in particular.

 

 

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.