In an election, according to the country’s laws, the illiterate and physically handicapped can be assisted to cast their vote. Section 59 of the Electoral Act, provides for the conditions of assisted voters.
Who qualifies to assist voters?
· Any person selected by the voter to assist them
· Polling station presiding officer in the presence of two other electoral officers or employees of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and a police officer on duty.
Qualifications of persons permitted to assist voters
· A person permitted to assist a voter does not need to be a registered voter but should not be a minor, electoral officer, accredited observer, chief election agent, election agent, or a candidate in the election.
· He/she has to identify himself or herself to the presiding officer by producing proof of identity and shall complete and sign the register
· He/ she is not permitted to assist more than one voter in any election.
How does a presiding officer assist a voter?
· Section 59 (4) of the Electoral Act reads: “ A presiding officer permitted to assist a voter in terms of subsection (1)(b), together with the other persons there mentioned, shall there and then mark the ballot paper in accordance with the voter’s wishes and place the ballot paper in the ballot box, and if the wishes of the voter as to the manner in which the vote is to be marked on the ballot paper are not sufficiently clear to enable the vote to be so marked, the presiding officer may cause such questions to be put to the voter as in his or her opinion, are necessary to clarify the voter’s intentions.”
· According to Section 59(5) of the same act no person other than the person selected by the voter or the presiding officer shall take part in assisting an illiterate or physically handicapped voter, and no person who is entitled to be in a polling station should attempt to ascertain how the voter is voting.
· The Electoral Act further states that the presiding officer shall cause the name of every voter who has been assisted and the reason why that voter has been assisted, to be entered on a list.