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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • 2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles


  • Important questions for observers, monitors and election agents
    Co-operative for Research and Education*
    March 25, 2008

    A. What to look for during election day:

    1. Were the necessary staff present throughout the voting process?
    2. Which officials were present? Which were absent?
    3. Were any unauthorized people present? Were they allowed to stay, and if so, why?
    4. Were security services present? Who?
    5. How many monitors were present? Who did they represent?
    6. Were political party election agents present? How many? Which parties did they represent?
    7. Was there any controversy about who should be allowed in the polling station?
    8. Was the indelible ink to prevent double voting tested in the presence of election agents to ensure it could not be removed from a voter's finger?

    B. Was the polling station ready for voters?

    1. Were all arrangements for the polling station in order?
    2. Were all materials available at the start and throughout the voting period? If not, what was missing and why?
    3. Was all necessary equipment present and in working order? If not, why?
    4. Was the polling station accessible to all voters? If not, what were the problems?
    5. Were the ballot boxes examined? Verified as empty? In the presence of election agents?

    C. Did the voting run smoothly?

    1. Did the election officials have a clear understanding of all the voting procedures?
    2. When voters requested assistance from election officials, was it provided in an appropriate and non-partisan manner?
    3. Was the Presiding Officer clearly in charge and able to manage the process without difficulty?
    4. Did monitors or election agents interfere with the voting?
    5. Did anyone attempt to tamper with voting materials, equipment or records?
    6. Was every voter able to cast a secret and free ballot?
    7. Did voters seem comfortable with the process?
    8. Did some voters require assistance in voting? Was assistance provided in a non-partisan way?
    9. Did you note any irregularities not mentioned above?

    D. Were there any delays in voting?

    1. Did the voting begin and end at the specified times?
    2. Did the voters become impatient with the procedures?
    3. Did voters appear to know what to do?
    4. Did voters requiring assistance significantly delay the process?
    5. Were there any disruptions to the voting?
    6. Were there any unnecessary delays? If so, how was the voting affected?

    E. Was anyone discouraged or prevented from voting?

    1. Did the voters roll appear to be accurate?
    2. Were many people sent away because their names did not appear on the roll? How did they react?
    3. How many people voted with voter registration certificates but did NOT appear on the voters roll? Did this appear to be a significant number?
    4. Were any voters blocked from entering the polling station? If so, why and by whom?
    5. Did voters present identification documents?
    6. Were any voters ejected from the polling station? If so, why and by whom?
    7. Were any voters intimidated or threatened? If so, by whom?
    8. Were any voters influenced by bribery, party propaganda, or official bias? If so, by whom?
    9. Did anyone attempt to vote more than once?

    F. Were there any problems or disruptions outside the polling station?

    1. Were there unduly long queues? If so, why?
    2. Was the security outside the station adequate?
    3. Was the security outside threatening or intimidating?
    4. Were voters waiting outside peaceful?
    5. Did anyone interfere with transport of voters to the polling station?
    6. Did voters and others obey the rules regarding no political campaigning within the 200 meter established perimeter of the polling station?

    G. Were proper procedures followed in closing the polling station and handling the ballot boxes, unused ballots and other equipment?

    1. Did the Presiding Officer close the slot in each ballot box and seal it as required?
    2. Were domestic monitors and party election agents present? Did they maintain their obligation not to interfere with the closing process?
    3. Did the Presiding Officer permit the election agents to affix a seal to the slots on each of the ballot boxes?
    4. Were the used and unused ballot paper counterfoils reconciled?
    5. Were the spoilt or cancelled ballots packed separately and sealed?
    6. Were the voter registration certificates packed and sealed?
    7. Was the voters roll also sealed for transport?

    H . Counting the ballots at the polling station

    1. Did the count begin promptly? If not, why not?
    2. Which election officials were present?
    3. Were all required materials available?
    4. Did officials understand the counting process adequately and proceed without difficulty?
    5. Were many defective or spoiled ballots found in the counting process? Why were they defective? Were these sorted and set aside as required?
    6. Was the count completed according to correct procedures and in a timely fashion?
    7. Were security services present and was the counting station secure?
    8. Were election agents present? Did they maintain their obligation not to interfere with the count?
    9. Were any queries or complaints raised by election agents? How were they dealt with?
    10. Did all election agents affix their signature to the polling-station return form after counting was complete?
    11. Did the Presiding Officer post the results outside the polling station as required by law?

    I. Transporting the ballot boxes to the constituency centers

    1. How were polling station results transmitted?
    2. Did the Presiding Officer accompany and deliver all ballot boxes and materials to the Constituency Elections Officer at the agreed place? When?
    3. Were the election agents present permitted to accompany the Presiding Officer in delivering the ballot boxes?
    4. Did members of the security forces accompany the Presiding Officer and election materials?
    5. Were any problems encountered in transporting the ballot boxes and other materials?

    J. Compiling and reporting the results at the constituency level

    1. The electoral act says that the constituency election officer "shall give reasonable notice in writing to each candidate . . . of the time and place where the constituency election officer will verify and collate all the polling-station returns". Was this done?
    2. Were the results of each polling station count promptly announced by the Constituency Election Officer at the constituency counting center?
    3. Was the introduction of postal ballots done in an acceptable and transparent way?
    4. How many postal ballots were cast? What percentage of total votes in each constituency were postal votes?
    5. Did the totals posted in each polling station match the numbers later reported on the return form for that same polling station at the constituency level?
    6. Did the Constituency Election Officer announce the results at the counting center in accordance with the regulations?
    7. Did the election agents accept the results?
    8. If not, did the election agents attempt to provoke their supporters to protest?
    9. Were the security services present and were they able to control any crowds that might have gathered?

    K. Compiling and reporting the results at the National Counting Command Center

    1. Were the results from the 210 constituency counting centers transmitted to the National Center in a timely way? If not, why not?
    2. Were domestic monitors, election agents and observers present to accompany all election materials (ballot papers, boxes, voters rolls) to the National Command Center?
    3. Were monitors, election agents and observers present at the Command Center compiling and reporting process?
    4. Did the totals announced publicly at the polling station and constituency counting centers match the total returns finally aggregated at the National Counting Command Center? If not, why not?
    5. Did any delays occur in the counting process? If so, why and for how long?
    6. Were the final results announced in a timely way?
    7. Did election agents accept the results?
    8. Were the security services present and were they able to control any crowds that might have gathered?

    L. Responding to the ward, constituency and national results

    1. Did the public seem to accept the results?
    2. Were members of the winning party left to celebrate in peace?
    3. Were members of the losing parties permitted to disperse without harassment by the winners?
    4. Was there an adequate security service presence in potential trouble areas?
    5. Did the security services operate in a professional and unbiased manner?

    Overall, what is your overall assessment of:

    • The effectiveness of election administration.
    • The freeness and fairness of the vote.
    • The validity of the count.
    • The integrity of the election process.

    *Mostly quoted directly from the "Manual for Civil Society Election Monitors" prepared by The Co-operative for Research and Education (CORE), Johannesburg, South Africa, 1995. Zimbabwean counting procedures differ so the sequence (not content) of these sections modified to reflect first count at polling station. The term "party agents" changed to "election agents" as per Zimbabwean electoral act. The term "voting station" changed to "polling station" as per Zimbabwean electoral act. A few other minor additions due to differences in electoral procedures.

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