There are still complaints that chiefs and headmen are demanding the numbers on people’s voter registration slips and even that they are collecting the slips themselves from people.
This may be intimidatory to some people, but is really just a manipulative gesture which is not grounded in any reality. The numbers on voter registration slips have nothing at all to do with being able to tell if, where or how a person votes.
What is the number on the voter registration slip?
- the first 4 digits are the serial number of the BVR machine on which the voter’s fingerprints and photo were taken when he or she registered to vote. The serial number is important so that if a person claims he registered but his name is not on the voters roll he can show his registration slip and a ZEC officer can check the machine on which he registered to see what if anything went wrong.
- the next four digits show the date on which the person registered, i.e. the day and the month.
- the next four show the time, e.g. 14.30.
- the last digit is a random number from 0 to 9 to make the series of digits up to 13 which the machines are set to read.
There is no connection between the numbers on a voter’s registration slip and the polling station at which the voter will vote. And the registration slip numbers are not connected to the numbers on a voter’s ballot papers [books of ballot papers are issued to polling stations and individual ballot papers are issued to voters in the order in which they come in to vote.]
So there is no harm in showing anyone your voters registration number because the number can’t tell anyone how or where or whether you are going to vote, or even if you have voted. But if you want to vote it is important to keep your voter registration slip in your own possession to prove you are registered somewhere. If by any chance you go and vote and you find you are not on the voters roll, the slip will enable ZEC officers to trace what went wrong and rectify it so you are enabled to vote.
Spreading Misinformation and Fear
Despite all this, it seems that chiefs have been demanding registration slips or recording voters’ registration numbers, and that ZANU-PF is making a note of the numbers in the records they keep of their cell members. If voters are being told that this is being done so that their votes can be identified, then that is certainly misinformation and may amount to intimidation.