Reference is made to news item on Mr CN Sharma’s advocacy for the photo of each of the presidential candidates to accompany the logo (symbol) and name of each of the parties. Mr Sharma is the presidential candidate of the Justice For All Party. I do not consider his idea comical as some have commented. I think it is appropriate for Guyana and should not be dismissed.
I like this idea and consider it very creative, and I must confess I never thought of it for Guyana, although I am aware it has been used in several countries with high levels of illiteracy. It was used in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other societies. In recent years, it was even used in developed countries like Ireland. Just this month, Singapore announced that its next presidential election will use ballots that have the photos of each candidate next to its symbol and logo. Several counties in Ireland also announced that their ballots will post the photos of the candidate on the ballots.
My experience in polling in Guyana has shown that large numbers of voters are not very literate. Voters are also not familiar with the physical appearance and facial looks of the presidential candidates. Thus, putting the photos of the candidates on the ballots will help the voters to better identify the candidates with the party symbols as well to make their choices so as to avoid any mistakes. In addition, it will eliminate errors relating to spoilt ballots. Last election, some 6500 voters put the ‘X’ in the wrong place. An improved ballot will allow voters to ‘X’ or circle the photo or the logo. The Elections Department in Singapore said the photos will allow voters to recognise the candidates more easily and facilitate their marking of voting choice on the ballot paper. Prof Maurice Iwu of the Nigeria Elections Commission said, “there was need to print pictures of all the candidates on the ballot paper for people to identify candidates of their choice.”
I applaud those politicians like Mr Sharma who are thinking outside of the box in order to facilitate voting in Guyana.