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‘Familiarize yourself with voting rules before Election Day’

‘Familiarize yourself with voting rules before Election Day’

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The Supervisor of Elections is urging all Vincentians who are registered to vote to familiarize themselves with the voting rules before Election Day to ensure that casting their ballots is quick and easy.

Speaking on a radio programme yesterday morning on NBC Radio, Sylvia Findlay {{more}}spoke of the ways in which registered voters – especially first-time voters – can prepare themselves for casting their ballots.

“The presiding officer, however, is obligated to give clear voting instructions to every voter, so new voters should not feel at all frustrated before they get there… it will be explained… The process is very simple and straightforward.”

Findlay said that those who are not 100 per cent sure of procedure/protocol on polling day can visit the Agency for Public Information website, as it contains a video demonstration detailing such.

She emphasized that when casting one’s ballot, each voter must indicate which party he/she is voting for by marking an ‘X’ with the provided lead pencil in the box allocated to the political party of his/her choice.

“Your vote needs to come within the space next to the person for whom you are voting. There should be one ‘X’ on the ballot paper after you have voted.”

Findlay further pointed out that after casting one’s vote, the ballot paper must be returned – folded – to the presiding officer at the polling station.

In regard to the difference between a spoilt ballot and a rejected ballot, she explained: “A spoilt ballot does not go into the box. So, if someone went to vote and just out of sheer habit marked the box with a pen… you fold the ballot and you say to the presiding officer ‘I spoilt my ballot. Can I have another?’ That will be torn in two and placed into a special envelope… The process will start again; you will be given another ballot, and you will go in and attempt to vote again…

“We don’t expect all the X’s to be perfect, but if when the ballots are being counted where it is not clear who this person is voting for – for example, the X was right on the line between two candidates – those become rejected ballots.”

The supervisor of elections urged all registered voters to check that their names are on the electoral list and to also ensure they know which polling station they should go to on Election Day, by checking online at pollingstation.gov.vc or calling the Electoral Office.

“As long as your name is on the Voters’ List, you are entitled to vote. Whether or not you vote, that’s a decision you make.”

One caller, who posed a question during the radio programme, inquired whether it is an offence for voters to refuse to dip their fingers in the ink after casting their ballot.

Findlay replied: “I wouldn’t say it is an offence, but if the voter does not dip his or her finger in the ink, then the ballot cannot go into the box. So then, you would not have voted. It’s not an offence in the sense that you can go to court, but it means that even if you show up there, you mark your X, you’re going to leave there not having put your ballot into the box.”

She further noted that anyone who refuses to ink their finger, the presiding officer will make a note of the individual, along with his/her voting number.

“The index finger should not have anything on it that would prevent the ink from staining the finger. So, in particular, we remind ladies who are wearing nail polish of any colour – even the natural – it needs to be removed before you come to vote.”

In response to another caller’s question, Findlay-Scrubb insisted that presiding officers at polling stations are not allowed to open voters’ folded ballot papers to check who they have voted for.

She said that although this situation is “unlikely” to occur, if it does happen, the voter should lodge his/her objection immediately.

Voters are also not allowed to take ‘selfies’ of themselves voting at polling stations, as they will be required to switch their mobile phones off before they enter the polling station.

The supervisor of elections also reminded all registered voters that the polling day begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.

“As long as you are in line by 5 p.m, you will be allowed to vote.” (JSV)

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