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ZEC: It's Illegal To Prematurely Announce Election Results Before ZEC's Official Announcement

6 months agoSun, 20 Aug 2023 11:46:53 GMT
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ZEC: It's Illegal To Prematurely Announce Election Results Before ZEC's Official Announcement

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has reiterated that announcing election results verbally or in print before the commission’s official announcement is illegal. In a statement seen by Pindula News, the ZEC confirmed that the presidential election results would be declared within a timeframe of five days. Reads the statement:

ANNOUNCEMENT OF ELECTION RESULTS

Presidential Election results will be announced within five (5) days after the polling day at the ZEC National Collation Centre
It is illegal to announce election results verbally or in print before they are announced by ZEC. Violators of this electoral offence will face legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, or both.

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ZEC also confirmed that it will post all election results outside Polling stations, Ward collation Centres, Constituency collation centres, as well as the National collation centre.

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In 2021, Dr. Qhubani Moyo, a commissioner of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), noted that Zimbabwe’s current electoral laws do not permit the announcement of presidential election results at the constituency level. According to the existing regulations, presidential election results must be declared at the national level. Dr. Moyo further explained that while all votes are counted and displayed at each polling station, the announcement of presidential election results is conducted nationally, unlike the local government and parliamentary results, which are announced at the constituency level. Dr. Moyo highlighted the need for legislative changes to decentralize the announcement of presidential election results, following the model employed in Zambia.

Process for Counting Presidential Votes

The Electoral Act and ZEC’s Electoral Officers Manual outline the legal procedures for counting, verifying, and collating votes in the Presidential election. The process is as follows:

At the polling station: Presidential ballot papers are counted first in the presence of candidates or their election agents, and accredited observers. No entry or exit is allowed during the counting process until it is finalized and recorded on the polling station return form (V.11). The constituency votes and ward votes are then counted using the same procedure. Separate V.11 forms are filled out for each election, documenting the totals.

The polling station V.11 forms are signed by the presiding officer and witnessed by another person. Candidates or their election agents have the option to sign the forms as a confirmation of the vote count.

Certified V.11 forms for each election are displayed outside the polling station and provided to candidates or polling agents. Additional certified forms are sealed in the appropriate ballot box with the counted ballots and sent to the Ward Elections Officer.

The ward elections officer calculates the total votes cast in the ward using the V.11 ward form. These totals are recorded on V.23A forms, one for each election. The forms are verified, signed by the ward elections officer, and witnessed. One copy of each V.23A form is posted outside the ward collation centre, and the ward election results are officially announced.

The constituency elections centre receives the V.23A forms, which include the constituency and Presidential election totals. These figures, accompanied by the original polling station V.11 forms, are collated and verified on V.23B forms. The constituency results are posted outside the centre and announced officially.

Only the ZEC Chairperson is authorized to officially announce the Presidential results.

The V.23B forms, containing constituency and Presidential results, along with the original V.11 forms, are transmitted to the Chief Elections Officer at the ZEC National Command Centre in Harare.

Verification Process:

The totals on the V.23B forms are collated and verified with the Presidential results on the V.11 forms. This can be efficiently done using spreadsheet software like Excel.

Candidates’ agents do not need to be present during the verification process, but they must be notified and given the opportunity to attend. They had earlier access to the V.11 forms at polling stations, the totals on the V.23A forms at ward centres, and the totals on the V.23B forms at constituency centres. It is not accurate to suggest that a candidate’s agent can delay the final announcement of results by their absence.

Note: The public has access to the total votes for the Presidential election from each constituency, as they are posted outside the constituency collation centre. However, the official announcement of the results is the responsibility of the ZEC Chairperson.

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