Concern over assisted voters

HARARE - Authorities must amend constitutional provisions relating to assisted voting ahead of the 2018 elections, as the current ones are prone to abuse, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has urged.

This comes as the number of assisted voters in the country’s previous elections has been contentious, due to vote rigging fears.

Opposition parties have in the past accused the ruling Zanu PF of using assisted voters to steal votes.

ERC said the relevant electoral provision in the Constitution should contain various safeguards aimed at protecting and or enhancing the interests and rights of the handicapped and illiterate.

“The first safeguard should be the insertion of provisions in the sections dealing with registration of voters. There should be provisions where those persons who wish to receive assistance in voting will be asked to indicate this when they register to vote,” ERC executive director Tawanda Chimhini said in a brief this week.

“They will also be asked to indicate what form of assistance they will require for example that visually impaired voters want to use Braille template so that they can vote in secret or that illiterate voters will want to be assisted by trusted friends.”

The electoral and democracy advocacy group said Parliament should facilitate the legal changes that are consistent with the rights provided for in the Constitution.

The organisation noted that the “disproportionately” large numbers of voters assisted to vote in the 2013 election had raised concerns of intimidation and fear among voters, with reports stating that over

200 000 people were assisted to vote in the poll.

“Others have popularly referred to this phenomenon, among other tactics, as a “harvest of fear” characterising the Zimbabwean electoral process,” Chimhini said.

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), multi-party liaison committees and political parties should also monitor the situation on the ground to ensure that the system of assisted voting is not politically abused.

“Widespread voter education, particularly in the rural areas where this phenomenon is rife, should be prioritised and promoted,” Chimhini said.

He said a “visually impaired voter should be able to either vote using a braille template or vote with the assistance of a trusted person without the presence of the presiding officer”.

Comments (2)

People who can not read and write should not vote, what will they be voting for, what right do they have when they do not know existance of those wrights. Smith was right when he said people who can not read and write should not vote.

Chiutare - 5 May 2017

People who can not read and write should not vote, what will they be voting for, what right do they have when they do not know existance of those wrights. Smith was right when he said people who can not read and write should not vote.

Chiutare - 5 May 2017

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