What you need to know about ballot papers and boxes

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With Zimbabwe set to hold by-elections next week and harmonised elections next year, there are a number of things that the electorate needs to know about ballot papers and boxes where the outcome of any polls is captured.

Here are the following important facts about ballot papers and boxes according to the Electoral Act:

About ballot papers

·         The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) must ensure that the number of ballot papers printed for any election does not exceed by more than ten percent the number of registered voters eligible to vote in the election.

·         ZEC should without delay provide the following information to all political parties and candidates contesting an election, and to all observers on where and by whom the ballot papers for the election have been or are being printed.

·         ZEC should provide information on the total number of ballot papers that have been printed for the election and the number of ballot papers that have been distributed to each polling station.

·         Before the commencement of the poll at any polling station, or on the first polling day where voting is to take place over two or more days, the presiding officer should, in the presence of persons entitled to be within the polling station, count and record the total number of ballot papers received at the polling station.

Ballot boxes

·         Not more than 30 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 should satisfy himself or herself that the ballot box to be used at the polling station is empty.

·         The presiding officer should show the interior of the empty ballot box to persons entitled to attend the polling station.

·         The presiding officer should immediately thereafter close and seal the ballot box in accordance with instructions issued by ZEC.

·         If it becomes necessary at any time during the polling period to use an additional ballot box at any polling station, the presiding officer should still satisfy himself or herself that the ballot box to be used at the polling station is empty

·         A ballot box closed and sealed should not be opened and the seal should not be broken except for counting purposes.

·         The presiding officer at a polling station should at the close of the poll, close and seal the aperture in the ballot box used at the polling station.

·         The presiding officer should 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 ZEC and in the presence of people entitled be present at the polling station.

·         The ballot box used in or at a polling station should 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.

·         The presiding officer is 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.

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