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Studio 7 Voting Guide to Constitutional Referendum 2013

  • Mavis Gama

Voice of America Studio 7

Voice of America Studio 7

As the referendum on Saturday approaches, many of you have asked us to help you understand more about the voting itself, asking what documents must you present to vote, where can you vote, what will the ballot look like, and other questions. So VOA Studio 7 has prepared what we're calling our voting guide to the constitutional referendum.

This guide makes no judgment about the draft, but simply describes the voting procedure and other aspects of the referendum for all those who wish to vote on Saturday.

This referendum guide will address 7 questions. The first is, simply, who can vote in the March 16 referendum?

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), all Zimbabwean citizens who are 18 years of age and older may vote in Saturday's referendum, so long as you are also eligible to register to vote in national elections later this year. However, you do not need to be registered to vote in order to cast a ballot in the referendum.

The second question is what documents do you need to show at a polling place in order to be allowed in to vote?

Acting ZEC chairperson Mrs. Joice Kazembe said during an observers meeting at the International Conference Centre Wednesday that a national identity card is the primary document that will allow you to vote.

If your identity card shows that you are not a Zimbabwean citizen but you have been issued with a certificate of citizenship, Mrs. Kazembe advises you to visit the office of the Registrar General to obtain an updated identity card or a waiting pass that shows that you are now a citizen.

She says a citizenship certificate on its own will not be accepted.

Question 3 refers to where voters may cast their ballots. The answer to this one is easy.

Kazembe says voters may cast their ballots anywhere in the country. You do not have to vote in the ward in which you are registered to vote. And again, there is no need to register in order to cast your vote in Saturday's referendum.

ZEC says it will use the same polling stations used in the 2008 harmonised elections with some additional stations added. For a complete list, consult a newspaper. If you don't have a newspaper, remember that polling places are usually schools and government district offices.

Question 4 of our referendum guide asks whether disabled voters can get help in the polling place. For example, blind voters may need assistance checking the box they want. ZEC says almost 57,000 referendum officers have been identified and trained to assist the disabled in polling stations countrywide.

What time do the polling stations open and close? That's question 5. Polling stations will be open from 7 a-m to 7 p-m on Saturday. ZEC says those standing in queue at 7 p-m will be allowed to vote, but anyone coming to the queue after 7 p-m will not.

Question 6 is about the basic format and language of the ballot. Political parties and other groups in Zimbabwe have been campaigning for both yes and no votes, but will the ballot make the choices clear? Yes.

According to specimens of the ballot, there will be two choices - yes and no. If you are in favor of the new constitution and want it to become the new foundational law of Zimbabwe, put an 'x' or a cross in the box next to the word "yes." If you oppose the new constitution and do not want to see it become the new foundational law of Zimbabwe, put an 'x' or a cross in the box next to the word "no."

The ballot versions Studio 7 has seen are in English only.