Gambia retains marble ballots in Dec polls

Mar 5, 2021, 12:58 PM | Article By: Sankulleh Gibril Janko

The Gambia will retain the marble ballot system of voting on 4 December 2021 presidential elections, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

The electoral commission proposed a ballot paper system to shift from the marble system, one of the oldest systems of voting on the continent, but this has not been confirmed by the relevant authorities.

With the delay in enacting the 2020 Election Bill which is still gathering dust in the cabinets of the National Assembly, it does not look feasible that there will be any electoral reforms, according to electoral officials./

In fact due to the delay of the 2020 Election Bill which is still languishing in the shelves of the National Assembly yet to reach the reading stage, using the proposed ballot paper is not feasible according to officials.

In addition, the first ordinary session of the National Assembly in the 2021 Legislative Year (15th March-9th April) did not allocate any time for the Election Bill to be read before the lawmakers.

A senior member of the Independent Electoral Commission in a consultative meeting with the media confirmed that using the proposed ballot paper in the upcoming presidential election is unattainable and the Gambia will therefore maintain the marble system of voting.

Although unique in its usage, the marble system can be very tedious and expensive. Using the marble ballot drum with double figured political parties from the previous election will be a nightmare for the IEC logistically.

Each of the about 1000 polling stations throughout the country must have a marble drum for all of the candidates seeking for the presidency.

Paper ballots are said to be cheaper and it is reportedly accurate.

The Independent Electoral Commissioner Alieu Momar Njai recently dismissed claims that using the paper ballot may prove to be difficult considering the illiteracy level of the Gambia.

Njai said Gambians are one of the smartest people in the world, adding a ballot paper requires voters to recognise their candidate of choice which he believes they can.

Another major concern about the marble ballot system is how it will be used to allow Gambians abroad to vote.

It could be recalled that the Supreme Court of Gambia recently ruled that Gambians abroad are eligible to vote in all national elections.