The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s plans to introduce more polling stations ahead of the 2018 elections have been met with scepticism with analysts saying that this could be a ploy to rig elections.
Constitutional law expert, Alex Magaisa said that introduction of more polling stations may be designed to make it more difficult for the polling stations to be monitored. Said Magaisa
1. ZEC wants to create new polling stations. At first sight, sounds like a great idea but take note:
a. For the 1st time, voting will be polling station-based & so are voters rolls. Millions are already registered based on current polling stations. How will the new fit in?
b. People are inspecting the voters roll & conforming details based on current polling stations. Will they be moved to newly created polling stations? And how will they know? There’s a risk of disrupting the voters roll & turning away voters on polling day.
c.) be careful to check where new polling stations will be created. There’s a chance many will be placed in remote areas, compromised spaces, or will be established late so that monitoring them will be a complete nightmare. That’s where ballot stuffing takes place.
d.) More polling stations means more elections agents for parties to monitor the voting process. It spreads the rigging opportunities wider and stretches resource-thin opposition parties. It’s harder to monitor events happening at once all over the place.
e.) there must be a time-limit beyond which ZEC cannot establish new polling stations. If not observed there’s a chance they could establish polling stations shortly before or on polling day. An election must be simple and clear. No need to complicate things.
f.) it might even be better to have long queues at fewer polling stations which can be monitored and observed than to have too many polling stations and many voters rolls which will be harder to monitor and observe.
These sentiments were shared by former cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo who wrote on his Twitter timeline,
“ZEC TO ESTABLISH MORE POLLING STATIONS”
A PLOY TO STUFF BALLOTS: Rigging polling stations are often set up late. Since voters roll is now polling station based, more polling stations means new voters rolls at the 11th hour!