The Electoral Commission (EC) on Wednesday said it attaches great importance to the work of polling agents in this year’s general elections because they did their work well, they could enhance the credibility of the elections.
An EC document said the elections could be enhanced if polling agents help in detecting impersonation, multiple voting, persons who try to tamper with the contents of a ballot box as well as polling staff who misconduct themselves.
According to the document, in order for polling agents to operate effectively on Election Day, they must have confidence and the trust of the candidate who appointed them.
It said the polling agent must have a minimum level of education to be able to discern issues and sign documents at the station, be familiar with basic election rules and regulations relating to activities at the polling station and be knowledgeable about the duties of the election officials at the polling station. Also, the agent must be willing to collaborate with election officials to deliver transparent election as well as be a resident of the polling station area and be reasonably familiar with the people.
The document said polling agents are expected, on election day, to arrive at their polling stations in time to observe the preparations before voting begins, adding, “Note that the presiding officer will go about his or her duties, whether you are present or not”.
Besides, agents are to respect the rights of voters at all times and observe the rules and regulations of the election.
It said polling agents must not take anything to the polling station that identifies their candidate or party.
The document said polling agents are not to take part in the actual administration of the election, including the counting of the votes after close of polls.
It is not the duty of any polling agent to inspect identity cards of persons and directly confront any person at the polling station.
“If you have an objection to make against any person in relation to the election, tell the presiding officer”, the EC said.
It called on stakeholders in the election to note that “the presiding officer is the person in charge of the polling station, and he or she has the final say on any matter concerning the poll, except where an appeal to a higher authority is permitted”.
The EC reminded polling agents to protect the interest of candidates who appointed them, saying the candidate has put great trust in them, and they must not disappoint them.
It urged polling agents, security personnel and election officials to work as a team, charged with the responsibility to ensure that the elections were run properly at the polling station, in accordance with the rules and regulations.
“You must carry out your duties with absolute dedication, honesty and integrity”, the EC added.