HomeLocal News‘No more postal votes for soldiers, police’

‘No more postal votes for soldiers, police’

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MEMBERS of the uniformed forces who will be on duty during elections will now vote 16 days before polls at properly designated polling stations to minimize undermining the credibility of the polling system.Report by Phillip Chidavaenzi, Senior Reporter

Speaking at a workshop organised by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for political parties in Harare yesterday, Commissioner George Feltoe said the reforms incorporated into the new Electoral Amendment Act included refinements to the postal voting system.

Soldiers and police officers who used to cast their ballots at police stations and at the barracks 30 days before the election, would now do so two weeks earlier, Feltoe said. This will also apply to ZEC officials.

“Members of the uniformed forces and ZEC officials on duty during polling days will now vote 16 days before the election. They will vote like everybody else. There are no more postal votes,” Feltoe said.

Under the old Electoral Act, police officers deployed on duty outside their voting constituencies as well as civil servants on duty outside the country were allowed to vote by postal ballot.

Feltoe, however, said the new process was complex because it involved having the ballot papers sent to the constituencies where they are registered as voters quickly.

“It is quite complicated. After the special election, you have to get the ballot papers to the constituencies where they should be counted,” he said.

Feltoe said the officers would cast their postal votes at constituted polling stations in unmarked envelopes before they were transferred to their constituencies. He said the new Act provided for comprehensive security mechanisms.

There were about 8 000 postal voters in the last election in 2008 amid allegations that police officers were ordered to vote for President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.

It was alleged that security agents had to cast their postal votes at police stations and at barracks in the presence of their seniors.

Partners in the Government of National Unity agreed to amend the electoral law as part of measures to avoid disputes over the conduct of future polls.

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