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Assisted voters law should be changed’

ELECTION experts have called on Parliament and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to push for a change of laws governing casting of assisted votes, following a large number of assisted votes in the 2013 general elections.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn) said Zec should ensure that blind people were given braille material so that they could vote without assistance while bigger ballot papers are printed for those with poor sight.

“Zec should invest in more comprehensive voter education programmes to improve people’s understanding of key electoral requirements to reduce numbers of assisted voters. In addition, the commission should explore other mechanisms for illiterate voters such as the use of thumbs to mark the ballot papers as done in other countries. In the case of blind voters, provisions must be made to introduce mechanisms such as braille ballot papers to cater for their needs,” Zesn national director Rindai Chipfunde Vava said yesterday.

The Elections Resource Centre (ERC) also proposed a raft of measures which would include allowing only one person to assist a vote.

“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. They will also be asked to indicate what form of assistance they will require, eg, that blind voters want to use a braille template so that they can vote in secret or that illiterate voters will want to be assisted by trusted persons,” ERC said.

The organisation also called on Parliament to ensure that all registered voters should have their name entered for any queries that may arise, saying this would nip any 2013 problems in the bud.

“In the 2013 election, disproportionately large numbers of voters were assisted to vote. Some sectors of society attributed these numbers to intimidation and resultant fear. Others have popularly referred to this phenomenon, among other tactics, as a ‘harvest of fear’ characterising the Zimbabwean electoral process. The law allows for assisted voting and explains the process. However, is the law foolproof from malpractice?” ERC said.

Source :

newsday

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