Voter registration and the voters’ roll key in the electoral processes

Following the 2018 harmonised elections, the Zimbabwe election support network (Zesn) compiled a compendium of election observers’ recommendations. The compendium reviews the legislative and electoral framework against the Zimbabwean constitution, regional and international principles and standards governing the conduct of democratic elections.

Zesn continues to advocate for sustained discussions on the recommendations and is continually engaging Parliament, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) other Chapter 12 commissions, political parties, political parties, members of the public and other electoral stakeholders so as to encourage improved uptake of recommendations which stakeholders collectively deem applicable to the Zimbabwean environment.

One of the critical points raised by Zesn was the issue of Voter registration and the voters’ roll.

Zesn noted that the electoral law must compel Zec to inform registrants who are removed from the voters’ roll.

“Those put on the exclusion list must be notified, and there must be a less cumbersome process to redress.

“Access to the final voters’ roll must be guaranteed for all contestants as provided by law, and within a specific time-frame,” Zesn outlined in their report.

Zesn moreover expressed that the there was an ease of registration in urban areas in view of the lowest registration statistics in Harare and Bulawayo in particular, and in urban areas in general.

Adding on to that, Zesn also noted that there should be more establishment of permanent registration centres and that these should be open throughout the electoral cycle.

“Copies of the roll must be availed to party agents at polling station.

“There is nee for procurement of integrated systems that allow one gadget to be used for multiple purposes, such as enrolling voters, voter verification on election day and transmission of results. 

“The law must provide the publication of results of the de-duplication process to enhance transparency.

“Zec must focus on continuous voter registration and cleaning of the voters’ roll,” Zesn said further in their report. 

Zesn assessed to the degree that there has not been any movement on the gaps outlined above, save for marginal improvements with regards to transparency on the voters roll as Zec during 2019 and 2020 by-elections displaying the voters roll outside polling stations.

However, Zec has been seized with the task of cleaning up the voters roll but the results of such processes have not been made public.

Zesn produced a draft Electoral Amendment Bill which has since ben submitted to parliament for consideration.

Furthermore, a number of gaps outlined above are include in the Bill, such as provisions requiring the Zec to inform registrants that are put on the exclusion list, facilitating redress for parties whose grievances are related to the voter registration process.

The position of this motion is that there have not been any noticeable improvements on the quality of the voter registration process since the 2018 harmonised elections.

The indefinite suspension of by-elections curtailed efforts for continuous tracking of improvements in electoral administration.