Scrap Proof Of Residence Requirement For New Voters: ZESN

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to reconsider the idea of proof of residence for voter registration saying the initial proposal to scrap the requirement was a welcome development.

In a statement released on Monday, ZESN urged ZEC to re-look at the issue of proof of residence for voter registration to avoid challenges experienced in the past processes where it resulted in the disenfranchisement of significant numbers of voters.

“ZESN has called upon the Commission to reconsider its position in reintroducing the need for potential registrants to produce proof of residence in order to avoid challenges experienced during the previous especially amongst youth and urban voters,” wrote ZESN in a statement.

 Furthermore, the electoral watchdog urged ZEC to resuscitate the stakeholder engagement forums that were aborted earlier in the year to enhance transparency in electoral processes.

“In light of the significant number of potential registrants who do not have their own houses, ZEC should conduct comprehensive voter education and widely publicize mechanisms that are available should one fail to produce proof of residence to ensure that no voters are disenfranchised,” said ZESN.

According to the draft voter registration regulations ZEC circulated to electoral stakeholders, voters were required to affirm to a registration officer their physical address without providing proof of residence.

For transparency the network noted that “the Commission should have provided feedback on stakeholders’ submissions and made further consultations on the changes made to the regulations before presenting them to the Ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for promulgation.”

ZESN urged the commission to make provisions for the disabled, elderly, pregnant and nursing mothers to ensure ease of voter registration.

“Mechanisms could include separate queues, special treatment to avoid discrimination against the vulnerable groups during the voter registration process,” added ZESN.

 

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