Report : 2013 VISION – SEEING DOUBLE AND THE DEAD A PRELIMINARY AUDIT OF ZIMBABWE’S VOTERS’ ROLL

2013 VISION – SEEING DOUBLE AND THE DEAD A PRELIMINARY AUDIT OF ZIMBABWE’S VOTERS’ ROLL

The registration of voters and the compilation and maintenance of an accurate national voters’
roll has been recognized as an essential and key part of the electoral cycle. Since the voters’ rolls record who may or may not vote, they may ultimately have a determining effect on who wins the poll. Equally importantly, it is imperative that the voters’ rolls, being the cornerstone of the administration of a democratic election, be accurate and up to date. While an incomplete voters’ roll may disenfranchise those who might otherwise be entitled to vote, an inflated roll containing duplicate entries, names of persons who have emigrated or of dead voters, lends itself to electoral fraud. For if the roll is inflated a false and increased ballot count can be effected (through ballot box stuffing, multiple voting or manipulation of the figures on returns) without
appearing blatantly implausible against the number of registered voters. Inaccurate voters’ rolls have a knock-on effect on the delimitation of constituencies, portraying an inaccurate number of voters for each area. In a first-past-the-post system, such as that adopted by Zimbabwe for all elections other than the presidential, this assumes increased importance as the number of “wasted votes” may be increased due to wrongfully delimited areas based on a false presentation of the number of voters in a particular area. In the same way, an inflated roll acts as the justification for printing an excessive number of ballot papers, further opening possibilities for electoral fraud.

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