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Evil Voting Schemes: Ballot-proofing potential rigging schemes

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Ballot-PapersBy Anonymous Doctoral Student

So how can patriotic Zambians eliminate or reduce vote rigging to a minimum?

Forward-looking Zambians—especially the opposition—will waste all the best efforts to conduct and win an election if they do not immediately demand or enhance transparency in the electoral and voting process. In the context of Zambia’s electoral and voting process, I take transparency to mean that all Zambians should be able to scrutinize the electoral processes (particularly the voting process) including the conduct of ECZ and deem it trustworthy. In simple terms, Zambians must find it easy to see for themselves “what the heck is going on” during the voting process. I must repeat this point because it is very important. Transparency, transparency and transparency is what it takes to win or its absence is what it takes to lose an election in these backward countries under the grip of power-hungry thuggish incumbents.

In the present Zambian electoral climate of fear, potential or suspected ballot or register manipulation, intimidation and outright threats from PF against the opposition, the opposition—especially UPND/HH—must call for and remind the electorate about the need for effective monitoring of the voting process.

This is the time for every stakeholder in this process to act without favour or fear. Particularly, law enforcement and security forces (those who genuinely love this country and its future), the media (excluding the patently unprofessional pro-PF ZNBC, dishonorable Daily Mail, compromised Times of Zambia), the civil society and the judiciary must not allow the state or political parties to use them for self-serving electoral outcomes. Their service should be to the Constitution of Zambia and not to political parties.

So what, exactly, are signs of rigging or signs that show that potential malpractices are taking or have taken place—which voters or party agents must immediately bring to the attention their campaign legal minds? Notice, I do not say reporting to the authorities because, sadly, law enforcement in these countries are mostly pro-incumbent. Zambians must applaud—according to media reports—Zambian law enforcement who are openly opposing PF’s attempt to misuse and abuse them. These officers are true patriots and professionals upholding the Zambian Constitution.

So, in the next 10 days, Zambian voters must become as sharp eyed and sober as Zambian eagles. Specifically, during the counting process, Zambians must ensure that:

(1) Before the commencement of the voting process, ECZ must have all polling center agents including the polling center take an oath of allegiance to ZAMBIA and its Constitution. ECZ must also remind the officers and agents that big jail time awaits any of them who interferes and tampers with the voting process.

(2) At the beginning of the voting process, the ballot box is transparent and empty. In other words, if Zambians cannot prove that the box is empty or see through the box, they must ask for a transparent replacement box with adequate security features.

(3) ECZ is permitting political parties to have a copy of election register or avail such copies before or immediately after voting but no later than the close of polling.

(4) In examining ballot tallies, agents must endeavor to have long memories. The agents must reject or seek immediate explanation and have a record or a picture or video evidence where multiple ballot marks seem to be from the same person or same handwriting. It may be evidence of multiple or repeated voting by someone who hates Zambia’s peace or posterity. Agents must keep a record of the incident and have all the parties counter-sign against the record, and bring it to the immediate attention of ECZ and party leadership.

(5) Zambians must be suspicious and ready to reject ballots that are lying neatly flat inside a ballot box or instance where ballot piles are neat inside the ballot box. It sounds counter-intuitive but it is true. If ballots within the box look like a pile of your child’s dirty clothes, there is a good chance that the ballot pile is “clean” and is the result of a random process of voters sliding the ballot inside the ballot. A neat pile of ballot papers like a pile of money in your bank is a sign of tampering unless such piles are a result of some post-voting activity involving all political party agents—I mean ALL political party agents. Not one, two, three etc. But it could also mean total collusion or corrupt capture of the whole polling center!

(6) A ballot or ballots with suspicious fold marks must lead to an immediate investigation. I mean IMMEDIATE investigation. Agents must make a record or records of such ballots IMMEDIATELY and bring to the immediate attention of ECZ and party leadership.

(7) Zambians must ensure that the number of ballots in the box does not exceed the number of ballots issued. All party agents MUST agree that a specific ballot is spoilt or eligible and the totals reconcile. Agents must keep independent picture records for future evidence.

(8) Where there are multiple voting centers within one area, Zambians must keep an eye on a polling center that has significantly more ballots than other centers. There must be acceptable reason for such a “big” number of ballots. Otherwise, it could indicate an electoral fraud in-process.

(9) Where possible, Zambians must insist that the polling centre head places a clear adhesive tape over totals column on tally sheets to deter or prevent tampering with totals. Where clear adhesive tape is absent, ECZ must allow agents to take a snap shot of the totals and tally sheets using personal devices such as cellphones.

(10) ECZ must allow at least two agents each as representatives of political parties to allow for breaks and potential fatigue.

(11) ECZ must allow agents to take pictures of all declaration forms.

(12) ECZ must not employ families of candidates in any capacity, and party agents must demand full identity and background information of their counterparts. The ECZ must authorize party agents to record and keep this information for potential legal consequences.

(13) Political parties—including the ruling PF party—and President Lungu must immediately issue a declaration that Courts of Law will swiftly and severely punish electoral fraud or interference in any form from their members.

(14) ECZ—or where impossible—must allow political parties to set up tracking mechanisms to reconcile forms from a poling center—which are basis for final national electoral results.

(15) ECZ must allow political party agents on board ZAF choppers/or such assets as they move ballot boxes to and from the polling centre. ECZ must avail political party agents details of pilots/drivers for future legal or court challenges.

(16) ECZ must allow political party agents to take pictures or make such records of security features and serial numbers of ballots and ballot boxes generally.

(17) Political party agents must ensure that vote counting takes place at the voting centre and immediately after the last person has voted.

(18) Finally, all political party agents must sign the tally sheet and each must each have a copy of the election results, complete with signature of the auditor of results/polling centre official.

(19) ECZ must ensure that security is present at all times in polling stations, and must allow and announce that the political party agents are also “security officials.” ECZ must not allow political party cadres in the precincts of polling stations.

(20) For the opposition parties, activating means to circumvent the potential communications blackout in order to monitor the results is extremely important. There are multiple ways to do this and your leadership should have already tested these means, including the use of satellite phones. Only an insane boxer orders a second pair of gloves on the day he steps into the boxing ring.

(21) The results are not final unless and until all political parties have signed a results declaration form, with ECZ providing contesting agents complaint forms with which to challenge the process and results.

(22) ECZ must ensure and mandate that openly pro-PF partisan and fact-free government outlets such as ZNBC, Times of Zambia and Daily Mail must not report on breaking news regarding election outcomes. Only ECZ can announce Elections Observer and opposition-verified results.

This list is by no means exhaustive or even adequately descriptive. Each voting Zambian must examine the history, context and application of electoral laws and voting practices as they pertain to their constituency.

A rigged ballot is sometimes hard to notice, predict and carry out. But the sure approach to preventing electoral fraud is to suspect everything that can go wrong and to trust no one—not even the polling centre head or party agents. All Zambians should volunteer to guard their individual votes on Election Day. I cannot put it any better than this: except for the insane ones, we all guard our private parts jealously. We should show and bring the same diligence to the votes that get into the ballot box. If Zambia desires a peaceful, orderly and transparent election, the ECZ and the political parties must swear to upholding transparency in every step of the electoral process. The legacy and the machinations of dictators such as Museveni and Mugabe, Nguesso and Deby should not be Zambia’s legacy to uphold. Otherwise, these evil schemes will put this country on track to a very dangerous future. Zambians must not permit evil voting schemes to take root in this country. They must prevent rigging schemes by all means possible and reject political thuggery that literally kills and buries this country. Zambians through their votes do not seek to lend the future of this country to UPND, PF, UNIP, FDD, etc. Instead, they seek to guard their votes because they borrowed the future of this country from their children and their grandchildren.

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31