News and Information

Polling stations open at 6:30 am Saturday
October 27, 2004
27 October, 2004

GABORONE The 2 179 polling stations throughout the country will open at 6:30a.m. Saturday to allow 552 890 registered voters to cast their votes.

The poll closes at 7 p.m. However, there is provision for an extension to allow people still in the queue to vote.

The Electoral Act provides that "if at the end of the period stipulated for the taking of the poll, the presiding officer is satisfied that for conditions beyond their control, many voters would not be able to cast their votes within the stipulated closing time, he may permit the taking of the poll to continue for a further period not exceeding two hours beyond the closing time." Over 11 500 election officers, including the police, would be hard at work the whole Saturday and Sunday mornings. Returning officers, who are the most senior, will be leading election teams in the 57 constituencies.

"As the key figure in the process, he/she should be called upon to resolve issues where uncertainty arises between candidates, agents and polling staff in his area of operation," according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) guide on the conduct of elections.

The returning officer would have an assistant. Others are presiding officers and polling officers who are responsible for, among others, ensuring and maintaining the highest standard of professionalism, impartiality and fairness in conducting elections.

The former also controls proceedings at polling station and keeps order.

Political parties have representatives at the polling stations called polling agents.

The Act prohibits any one from doing anything that might compromise the secrecy of the voter's ballots. In addition, no one should talk to voters within the polling stations or wear colours of any political party. Cellular phone use is also forbidden.

Upon arriving at the polling station, where they are registered, each voter has to present their registration card and a valid national identify card, Omang, to the presiding officer.

The officer would issue a ballot paper to the voter and indicate this with a mark against the name and number of the voter.

"There shall be no immersing of the thumb in the ink," according to the guide, as it was the case in the previous elections. "The presiding officer shall put his/her initials and date at the back of the registration card." After indicating their choice on the ballot paper, the voter would fold it up and then "show the presiding officer the back of the paper, so as to disclose the official mark and put the ballot paper so folded into the ballot box." In the event the voters are blind or have other physical handicap, the presiding officer should assist them to vote inside the polling booth in the presence of persons who are accompanying them.

When time comes, the poll would be closed and the ballot boxes where voting was conducted outside the counting centre would be transported to constituency headquarters or a place determined by the returning officer as a counting centre.

Though the returning officer would announce the election results at the centre, the IEC secretary is the only one who should pass such information to the media and the media to the nation. BOPA


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