VOTER REGISTRATION GOES DIGITAL

ECZ tests online voter registration system ahead of 2021

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SUN REPORTER writes

THE Electoral Commission of Zambia has commenced the Beta Testing Phase of the Online Pre-Registration platform that will be used as the voter registration process is modernised to include biometrics.

The platform will enable eligible voters to commence the registration process by submitting their details online and collecting their voter’s card at a designated collection center. (Do note that the Collection Centers will be open once Voter Registration starts.)

According to a statement, the Beta Testing Phase will run from the 18th to the 25th of July 2020 and members of the public are invited to participate in testing the platform at www.eczovr.org

Recently, the electoral body announced that the voter registration exercise had been re-scheduled to October this year ahead of the 2021 general elections.

The voter registration exercise was supposed to have started in May but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, the ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindanosaid the voter registration exercise would run side by side with the online and mobile registration exercises.

“The commission planned to undertake the registration of voters in May 2020 for 60 days but due to Covid-19 pandemic, the commission has had to adjust the activities in the election timetable. Therefore, the commencement of voter registration exercise has been rescheduled to October 2020 and it will be undertaken for 30 days nationwide in a constituencies and wards. This will be an aggressive process and we encourage citizens to be on the lookout. 

“The expected date of commencement I think should be around the 18th of October when all other processes have been concluded including the mobile voter registration exercise with our colleagues under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The period of voter registration has been reduced from 60 days due to tight timelines leading to the election date which is enshrined in the Constitution. So for us to be able to meet that timeline, the undertaking for voter registration will be for 30 days,” Nshindano said.

“The commission has further reviewed stakeholder concerns and recommendations about the intention to embark on a new register of voters which targets 9 million voters, the commission undertook a thorough analysis of every situation and different scenarios of preparing the register of voters for the 2021 general elections, arising from this analysis, the commission has concluded that it would be the best and in the best interest of all the stakeholders and the general public for the commission to undertake a fresh registration of voters whilst ensuring that the current registered voters are still retained on the provision that they present themselves for verification, updates and capture of additional information required including biometric capture which is their fingerprint and a portrait. The voter registration exercise will include online as well as mobile voter registration. We are quite excited about the online registration which will allow citizens to simply go online and register, more details will be communicated to you.”

The ECZ official confirmed that the date of the 2021 elections could not be changed because it was enshrined in the constitution.

“In order to meet the deadline ahead of the 2021 elections, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the commission has had to revise its election time table taking into consideration that the election date is enshrined in the constitution. The commission carried out a critical analysis of the activities and the time frame ahead of the 12th August 2021 when Zambia is scheduled to hold its general elections. We have seen a number of articles as well as media reports with regards to the commission attempting to defer general elections, that is totally not possible because this is a constitutional matter, it is enshrined in the constitution and the elections will be held on 12th August 2021 and I would encourage citizens as well as our media colleagues to basically have a look at the constitution and a number of other electoral laws as we do our analysis. So Covid-19 has imposed a challenge, not only for elections but almost every sector of life within and across the nation. The commission would like to ensure that every undertaking is within the law, aimed at enhancing the electoral process and delivery of credible elections that meet the aspirations of the Zambian people,” he said.

The chief electoral officer, said the exercise will take place from October 18 for a period of 30 days instead of 60 days.

The electoral body will undertake the registration exercise for new voters while ensuring that current registered voters verify their details.

Nshindano said the electoral body was reviewing the roadmap for elections in view of COVID-19 outbreak.

“The commission is monitoring events closely as the pandemic unfolds and is, therefore, realigning its electoral calendar,” he told reporters during a press briefing.

The general elections will go ahead on August 12, 2021, in line with the country’s constitution.

The Voter Registration Exercise will include mobile as well as online voter pre-registration and eligible voters will have to register or verify their details under the register for the 2021 General Elections.

Over 8,000 registration points will be used for the registration exercise over a 30 days period from 19th October 2020 to 18th November 2020.

Registration of voters is the process where eligible citizens make application to be included on the register of voters for the purpose of voting in an election. Section seven (7) of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 mandates the Commission to conduct Continuous Voter Registration.

ECZ has been conducting Provincial consultative meetings with District Registration Officers and Registration Officers.

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