Ghost Voters? An Abridged Technical Review of the 2018 Zimbabwe’s Harmonised Election Voters’ Roll

Executive Summary

This report presents a concise analysis of the 2018 Voters’ Roll, that complements the other report, the main aim being to address one main question: Are there ghosts in the voters’ roll?

Several techniques were used to help explore this question, in light of the emerging evidence from the magnitude of inconsistencies that we originally uncovered (as detailed in Report 1). To achieve this end, we deployed computational tools and techniques to sift through the records in the voters’ roll. Two main approaches were used in this regard viz. external consistency evaluation along with internal consistency evaluation.

The first approach was from a demographic perspective. The main finding that emerged was that the demographic distribution in the 2018 Voters’ Roll is not consistent with the prevailing demographic models for Zimbabwe, along with precedent models from the 1982 up to the 2012 censuses. The main argument derived was that of possible manipulation of the entries on the voters’ roll.

The second approach, which entailed the evaluation of the cases in the voters’ roll was mainly anchored on confirming or disconfirming the coherence in the entries. To help put the 2018 entries into perspective, previous records were used, and these comprised of the 2008 and 2013 voters’ rolls. One key finding was that for virtually all the quasi-similar ID entries from the 2018 roll, one of the pairs had an audit trail from prior voters’ rolls, while the other did not, thereby reinforcing the argument that virtually all these cases were indeed duplicated cases, with slight alterations to the ID suffixes. Other inconsistencies were uncovered, with the key ones appearing to implicate the Registrar’s Office owing to the emerging possibility of deliberate efforts to alter IDs, unless there are other genuine explanations for the discrepancies.

The major conclusion is that, by all standards, the 2018 Voters’ Roll is fraught with errors and omissions, along with instances that lead to the assessment that ‘ghost voters’ do exist, despite the fact that ZEC had availed itself of advanced biometric registration and deduplication systems

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