Zambians participate in elections by registering as voters and then voting on election day.
Voting is the act of casting a ballot on polling day. Voting in Zambia is carried out on a one person, one vote basis. It is done through secret ballot. This means that no other person should know whom another person has voted for. In a tripartite election like the 2011 elections, Voters are expected to vote for Presidential, National Assembly and Local Government candidates on the same day at the same time.
Voting takes place at the polling station. Polling stations open at 06.00 hours and close at 18:00 hours. If the polling station opens late the time lost will be added to the closing time. People who have joined the queue by 18:00 hours will be allowed to vote (until the queue is exhausted). A voter must vote at the polling station appearing or shown on that person’s voter’s card.
During polling day, a voter should do the following:
Step 1 – Preparing to go to the polling station – A voter must take to the polling station the following documents:
- Their green national registration card (NRC),
- Their voter’s card.
Step 2 – At the polling station – upon arriving at the polling station:
- Voters line up with the other voters to wait for their turn to be allowed inside the polling station,
- Voters should observe all the rules and regulations governing the polling station.
Step 3 – Inside the polling station – In the polling station there are several tables. At each table you are issued with different instructions and materials. In order to vote you must follow the listed procedures.
- Table 1 – The voter must show the polling assistant their NRC and voter’s card. The polling assistant checks the details on NRC and voter’s card against those in the register of voters. The voter will not be allowed to vote without both the NRC and Voter’s card. The voter will also not be allowed to vote if the person’s name does not appear in the register of voters for that polling station.
- Table 2 – On the next table the voter’s hand will be checked to see that there are no ink marks. The right hand thumb is then marked with indelible ink. The voter is then issued with a ballot paper for the Presidential election.
- Table 3 – The voter is issued with ballot papers for National Assembly and Local Government elections.
- Table 4 – The Presiding Officer/Assistant Presiding Officers sit on table 4 to oversee all the activities in the polling station.
- Table 5 – The voter deposits the marked Presidential, National Assembly and Local Government ballot papers in the respective transparent ballot box. The ballot box lids have the same colour with that of the ballot paper for the respective election that is orange for Presidential, red for National Assembly and Black for Local Government.
Step 4 – After being issued with ballot papers – the voter goes to a polling booth to mark on the ballot paper an X against the candidate of their choice. They fold each marked ballot paper separately and slot each ballot paper into the appropriate ballot box. The ballot boxes are transparent.
For your ballot paper to be accepted do not do the following:
- do not write your name on the ballot paper,
- do not write your signature or any mark that may identify you on the ballot paper,
- do not place a mark on more than one candidate or write anything else except for the mark X,
- do not leave the ballot paper unmarked,
- do not remove the ballot paper from the polling station,
- do not come with a ballot paper from outside the station.
VALID BALLOT PAPERS (Specimen)
Spoilt ballot paper
A voter, who accidentally spoils or tears the ballot paper such that it cannot be used as a valid ballot paper, may ask the Presiding Officer for another ballot paper. If the Presiding Officer is satisfied that the ballot paper was spoilt accidentally, the Presiding Officer/Assistant Presiding Officer shall instruct the Polling Assistant issuing ballot papers, to issue another ballot paper to the voter.
Secrecy of the vote
An election by secret ballot is where voting by each person is done on a ballot paper which does not identify who the voter is. For example, when we elect the President, Members of Parliament and
Councillors, we use ballot papers. We mark the ballot paper in a booth where nobody else can see whom we are voting for. We do not write our names on the ballot paper. Then we fold the ballot paper and put it in a ballot box (sealed box). So the candidate we vote for is our secret.
Procedures for assisting people with special needs
These are people who require particular attention or assistance to vote. They include:
- The blind or visually impaired,
- The illiterate,
- The physically incapacitated or persons with disabilities,
- The aged,
- Expectant mothers.
People with special needs should follow these procedures:
- If a voter has a special need they should ask a person whom they trust who should be a relative or friend to assist them. The person who is to offer assistance MUST be registered in the same polling station as the voter requiring assistance. If the voter requiring assistance does not have a trusted friend or relative then the Presiding Officer can offer assistance.
- The person offering assistance is only allowed to assist one voter.
- The person helping must be approached by the voter requiring assistance to vote.
- The Presiding Officer will announce who is helping the voter, a relative or friend, and will indicate in the voters register that the voter has been assisted.
The person helping someone with special needs should:
- Wait to be asked,
- When you are asked to help, report this to the Presiding Officer who will explain to you what to do,
- Be honest, and do not influence the voter’s mind.