The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has introduced marker pens with ineradicable ink to mark voters during elections, replacing the finger dipping method as part of a new voting system proposed to curb double voting. The new system means that voters would be permanently marked with marker pens that have inks that are not easily erasable, meaning that a voter would only cast a ballot once and any other second attempt would easily be noticed and avoided by the commission.
In a statement last Friday, ZEC’s chief elections officer Mrs Constance Chigwamba said the proposed use of indelible marker pens in the voter registration system would restrain cases of multiple voting in the country.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is mandated by section 56(4) (b) to prescribe the manner of marking voters as a precaution against double voting,” she said. In this regard ZEC intends to pilot the use of marker pens with indelible ink to mark voters in place of finger dipping in the Chiredzi Town Council Ward 5, Binga Ward 1,Bubi Ward 15 and Vungu Ward 2 in upcoming by-elections.”
Mrs Chigwamba said the preliminary project would begin in the four wards next month.
“The pilot exercise will be carried out on the 2nd of April 2016, the date of elections for ward 5 of Chiredzi Town Council and Ward 1 of Binga Rural District Council, while the same will be conducted for Bubi Rural District Council Ward 15 and Vungu Rural District Council Ward 2 on the 23rd of April 2016,” she said.
“Stakeholders in the respective wards are encouraged to make the electorate aware of the pilot programme to complement ZEC’s efforts in this regard.” Mrs Chigwamba said introducing indelible markers in the voters’ roll would attract many benefits to the commission.
“The advantages of using the markable pen against the dipping method are that it reduces the amount of ink used, it is user friendly and tidy, easy to handle and distribute and the marker pen is environmentally friendly,” she said.
“This method of marking voters has been employed in the following SADC countries, South Africa, Angola, the Seychelles, Zambia and Namibia.” Mrs Chigwamba said several awareness campaigns would be necessary in promoting the sustainability of this project.
“Since this is a pilot exercise, ZEC intends to carry out an intensive awareness campaign in the four wards where the use of the marker pens will be employed,” she said. “ZEC appeals to eligible voters in Chiredzi Town Council Ward 5, Binga Rural District Council Ward 1, Bubi Rural District Council Ward 15 and Vungu Rural District Council Ward 2 to participate in the voting exercise in order to make this pilot project a success.”
She said ZEC’s adoption of the exercise during the 2018 general elections would be guided by results from the four wards. ‘The results of this pilot project will give direction to some of the voting options that will be adopted during the 2018 general elections and after this pilot project the Commission will give the nation feedback,” she said.
“The actual cost factor of adopting this method of inking voters will be established at the end of the pilot project which is meant to establish its viability,” she added.