Spoilt ballot papers spark controversy

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Results of this week’s election for the Speaker of Parliament have exposed Members of Parliament are after all unable to follow simple voting instructions, unless the MPs were being deliberately mischievous during the crucial Tuesday polls.

Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma and polling agents for Zanu PF and the MDC-T took a lot of time arguing over three ballot papers by MPs who had failed to mark their ballot papers in the correct manner.

On the eve of the elections, Zvoma had announced at a press briefing that manuals detailing voting instructions would be placed in each MP’s pigeonhole for them to read and understand how they should vote so as to avoid the occurrence of mistakes and spoilt ballot papers.

This apparently failed to yield fruit as three ballot papers cast by unknown MPs attracted controversy, raising questions as to whether the MPs were truly daft or that they had done it deliberately to avoid voting for a certain candidate.

“We accounted for 199 ballot papers,” said Zvoma. “There were two reservations; the first being in respect of the ballot paper which had an ‘X’ in the correct box but where the MP had started to write the name of the candidate elsewhere and after analysis and noting the reservations by two of the election agents for Lovemore Moyo, I ruled that ballot paper valid because in terms of the rules it did not violate the secrecy of the ballot.

“On one other ballot paper, the MP marked ‘X’ outside the box and again there were reservations by the other pair (election agents) and I ruled that ballot invalid.

“There was a third reservation explained by the election agents for Lovemore Moyo about an ‘X’ that consisted of either two or three lines and I ruled those were valid. In the event we discovered six ‘Xs’ existed on either side of the candidate and therefore the objection was ruled out,” said Zvoma.

During the announcements of results, Zvoma pointed out that certain MPs had failed to follow instructions, resulting in one ballot paper being ruled invalid.

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