As Gambians prepare for the Presidential Elections scheduled to hold on the 4th of December 2021, many voters in the country have indicated their readiness for it.
Section 26 of the 1997 Constitution gives every Gambian 18 years of age and above and also of sound mind, the right to participate in elections (Presidential, National Assembly and Local Government Elections) when one has acquired a voter’s card through registration.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), a total of 962,157 voters registered for this year’s elections.
Ahead of the elections on Saturday, it is prudent that voters are reminded about the voting procedures on election day.
A citizen must first fulfil some requirements, including the following, in order to be able to exercise their franchise:
- Be in possession of a Gambian voters card
- Present oneself at the right polling station
- Must have one’s name on the register
- Must not be of unsound mind
- Must not be in a state of inebriation.
On election day, a voter must identify the candidate he or she wants to vote for and this, it is advised, must be based on strong grounds such as believing in the party or the candidate’s program, competency, unblemished character and leadership skills, if given the opportunity to serve. For candidates vying for another term, what the leader has achieved during his tenure is also worthy of consideration.
Where And When To Vote On Election Day
Voters can only vote in the constituency where they registered during the voter registration exercise. A voter will not be allowed to vote anywhere else.
According to the IEC, polls open at 8 am and close at 5 pm on election day across the country, after which, counting begins in the presence of party and polling agents. However, the polls may either close earlier if all the voters allotted to a polling station are identified to have voted, or close later if there are still voters in the queue after 6 pm.
Special Arrangements for Special Needs
Section 67 of the Gambia Elections Act also makes provision for priority to be given to the candidates contesting the elections to cast their ballots.
Dubawa spoke to an IEC official, Elizabeth Jarjou, who stated that it is mandatory from the IEC that pregnant women, nursing mothers, the elderly and people living with disabilities are also given priority to vote (with their consent) without having them join long queues.
The Voting Process
The voting process involves the use of ink and marble.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has stipulated some steps to go through to cast one’s ballot.
First, the voter’s name and information on their voter’s card will be checked against the voters’ list in that constituency by the Assistant Presiding Officer (APO). Voters who are under query will be referred to the Presiding Officer.
If matches are confirmed, the voter’s thumb will be dipped into the indelible ink to ensure that they have been identified as eligible to vote.
The Presiding Officer will then check their finger and hand them a marble/token to dump in a candidate’s ballot box. Ballot boxes are labelled with candidates’ pictures for easy identification.
Once a citizen votes, a sound will pop that confirms that the vote has been cast.
A voter enters a voting booth alone and discreetly, except in the case of the visually impaired or disabled and the aged who are accompanied by a guide.
The procedure for voting is based on the provisions of the Elections Act.