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Electoral reforms 1: Voter registration
Youth Forum
November 14, 2012

In this first edition of the Electoral reforms update, we look at the reforms instituted to allow for improved and hustle-free voter registration as it is the process that leads to a clean and up to date and accurate voters roll, which is the bedrock of elections.

Zimbabwe is currently using a voter's roll that was compiled in 1985, and has been continuously updated since then, a Roll that has been a subject of a lot of criticism from different circles, with some even claim it is the inaccuracy of the roll that can lead to rigging of elections.

The roll currently has over 5.5 Million voters registered.

Polling Station Based Registration

The new regulations provide for polling station specific voter registration, meaning voters will have to be registered at specific polling stations at which they will have to vote, and will not be allowed to vote at any other polling station. The polling station specific registration system is easier to administer, as each polling station has known number of registered voters. It also provides safeguard against double voting as voters can only vote at the particular station where they are registered.

However, with the history of violence and victimisation that has characterised Zimbabwe's past elections, the system makes it easy for perpetrators of violence to target individuals as returns from each polling station will be made public. It is also easy for political opponents to intimidate voters pre-election using this polling station registration system.

The Youth Forum also understands that the political parties that are signatory to the Global Political Agreement agreed that the next election will remain ward based (you can register and vote at any polling station within your ward) and the polling station specifity regulations will only be effected after the next election.

Proof of Residence

The contentious issue of proof of residence is still there, but this time with a provision that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) can now further prescribe other documents that will be accepted as proof of residence. This has been implemented to assist those that fail to acquire the documents prescribed in the Zimbabwe Electoral Act, as many people, especially youths, have failed to register due to stringent measures in the requirement for proof of residence.

We only wait to see the type and nature of document that the Commission will prescribe as acceptable proof of residence.

It is also important to note that absence from a constituency for more than 12 months will mean that person is no longer a resident of that area and can be removed from the voters roll.

Provision for a New Voters Roll

The amendment has a provision that will allow the President, on the advice of ZEC, to order a new registration of voters. The exercise must last for at least 6 months but ZEC can extend the period.

Voters on the old voters roll will be transferred to the new voters roll by simply presenting themselves to the constituency registrar & producing proof of identity. New voters will have to go through the normal registration process, which means, in addition to proof of identity; they will need proof of residence as well.

This process will ensure that no dead and ghost voters will appear on the new roll as, obviously, such people will not appear in person to confirm their registration. This exercise will depend on those on the old roll coming forward to confirm their registration.

Removal of Dead Voters

Whilst in the past dead voters were only removed on the basis of a death certificate or burial order, the reforms now allow for a relative or traditional leader (Chief, Headman e.t.c) to make a sworn statement to the effect that a person on the voters roll is dead, a statement that will be used to remove the dead person after being presented to a magistrate.

Visit the Youth Forum fact sheet

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