NewsZimElections2023

Bulilima by-elections: High number of assisted voters worrying

The high levels of assisted voting in the Bulilima by-elections were attributed to illiteracy, old age and visual impairment.

CITE visited all the 13 polling stations in Ward 1, 14 and 16 and observed a number of voters, especially the elderly being assisted to cast their ballots.

At Mafeha primary school in ward 14 at 10 am, 13 voters who cited illiteracy were assisted to vote while at Malalume polling station, just before midday, 18 voters who cited illiteracy and eyesight problems had been assisted to cast their ballots.

At Malopa dam primary school, when a CITE news crew arrived at the polling station seven female voters had been assisted to vote.

Opposition political parties have often accused the ruling party of forcing voters to declare illiteracy so they could be assisted to vote.

Commenting on the matter, the newly elected Ward 16 councillor Makhadi Moyo of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) said she observed an elderly voter at Mathambo polling station who had come with someone to assist her being blocked by the ZEC officials.

“ZEC officials are the ones who had to assist her and my election agent condemned that and the officials ended up agreeing that they made a mistake, after that we did not experience any hiccups,” said Moyo. 

According to section 59 of the Electoral Act, the illiterate and physically handicapped can be assisted to cast their votes by the polling station presiding officer in the presence of two other electoral officers or employees of the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) and a police officer on duty.

The Electoral Act also states a person who is permitted to assist a voter does not need to be a registered voter but should not be a minor, accredited observer, chief election agent, election agent or candidate in the election. 

The person to assist a voter has to identify him/herself to the presiding officer by producing proof of identity and shall complete and sign the register.

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