The Election Law may not be up to our expectations and ambitions, The election fever and the voters and candidatesâ€™ enthusiasm may reach their highest peaks, The electoral process may witness fair or unfair campaigns, Some will win, others will lose, Much can be expectedâ€Ś Yet, an administratively successful electoral process requires good polling and counting procedures. For this reason, the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities has established detailed and effective measures and put them at the service of Polling Stations heads and clerks in order to promote training and optimize its benefits. This Polling and Counting Handbook is one last pillar to add to the foundations of the electoral process. It is a tool designed for the stakeholders who are expected to remain totally unbiased and fully professional. Finally, I would like to thank all those who contributed to the drafting, design, printing and distribution of this handbook.
Ziyad Baroud Minister of Interior and Municipalities
ď€ ď€ Election Materials
Polling Day Procedures Preparing the Polling Station
Before the Polling Starts
People Authorized to be at the Polling Station
Guaranteeing Order in the Polling Center
The End of Polling
Preparations for Sorting and Counting
Sorting and Counting
Filling the Minutes and the Results Announcement Form
Packing and Submitting Election Materials
Election Materials The Polling Station Head and Clerk shall receive the following election documents and materials from the Qada center:
Documents Official stamped envelopes
Decision on the distribution of polling centers in electoral districts
Official unstamped envelopes
Decision on PS head and clerk appointment
(20% of total number of voters)
Car use permit
The votersâ€™ list
Polling station staff badges
The votersâ€™ checklist
Polling station minutes
Polling station signboard
Vote counting sheet
Head and clerk uniforms
Voting results announcement form Electoral law Polling station handbook Decree on announcing elections
Materials Transparent ballot box Ballot box seals Bottles of indelible ink Polling kit:
Pencil (HB) with rubber (Qty 3) Pencil sharpener Pen - black (Qty 4) A6 white papers (pack of 800) Red wax Clips
Kleenex for drying excess ink Gloves Blue ink stamp pad with ink Barrier tape Scissors Garbage bags Brown plasticized packing tape Ball of string Rubber bands Table lantern with batteries
The ministry shall deliver to the polling station before the polling day: Polling booth TV set, camera and accessories
Polling Day Procedures On the Polling Day, the polling station head and the clerk must show up at 06:00 to prepare for the conduct of polling. The head and the clerk will wear â€˜Elections 2009â€™ uniforms and caps. An election worker, who without any legal grounds, fails to appear in the polling station where he is appointed as head or clerk, shall be jailed for one month or shall pay a one-million LBP fine (article 79.4, Parliamentary Election Law). The head of the polling station and at least 2 polling station members must be present during the electoral process (article 82.2, Parliamentary Election Law). In case there are less than 3 members present, the PS head shall start the electoral process. A polling station head may be substituted by the clerk if the polling station head is temporarily absent and cannot perform his/her duties.
Preparing the Polling Station The polling station head, together with the clerk, arranges the polling station shall:
Post at the polling station entrance (article 86.2, Parliamentary Election Law): a copy of the Voters’ List; a copy of the decision on establishing and designating the premises of the polling station; Arrange the tables and place on them the following materials (see the layout): Table #1 A copy of the Parliamentary Elections Law
A list of the Candidate Agents
Polling Station Minutes Table #2
A copy of the Voters’ Checklist
Official stamped envelopes A transparent ballot box Bottles of indelible ink (Article 86.2, Parliamentary Election Law);
Arrange the polling booth (each polling station will have at least one) and inside the booth Display the list of the candidates (article 87, Parliamentary Election Law); Place white blank papers; Place pencils (from time to time sharpen the pencil if/when needed); Post “elections logo” poster on the table and the polling steps informative poster on the wall; Make sure that all posters, symbols, writings, and slogans of any nature whatsoever are removed from the polling station (article 86.3, Parliamentary Election Law);
Arrange enough chairs for the Observers and Candidate Agents.
Before the Polling Starts Before the polling starts the polling station head must:
1. Select two assistants from the literate voters; ask the voters to choose two assistants amongst themselves. The names of the four assistants shall be recorded in the polling station minutes (article 79.1, Parliamentary Election Law). If there are not enough voters present at the polling station to form the polling station staff, the head should continue with the polling preparation activities and start the polling process.
2. Seal the Ballot Box: The head, with the supervision of the eldest assistant and in front of all authorized persons, verifies that the ballot box is empty and locks it (article 86.1, Parliamentary Election Law) using six white plastic seal-locks (all seal-locks have the same number which is unique to the polling station).
3. Count the Official Envelopes to verify that the number is equal to the number of voters registered at the polling station (article 87, Parliamentary Election Law).
At 07:00, the head will declare the polling station open. Polling is conducted in a polling station from 07:00 to 19:00 (article 80, Parliamentary Election Law).
1 Step 1: Controlling the queue The polling station staff:
Check that none of the voter’s fingers has already been inked; a voter whose finger has been inked will not be allowed to enter the polling station;
Ask the voter if he/she has the identification document necessary for participating in the elections; a voter who does not have any of the necessary identification document will not be allowed to enter the polling station;
Allow the voters to enter the precinct of the station one-by-one; Check for elderly, disabled, sick or pregnant voters and direct them to the front of the queue; ensure that voters waiting in the queue do not create any disturbances.
2 Step 2: Identity Verification The polling station head:
Verifies that the voter has not been inked; A voter who has been inked will not be allowed to vote (article 90.3, Parliamentary Election Law);
Asks the voter to represent the National Identification Card or a valid Passport (blue or red) (article 88.1, Parliamentary Election Law); If a voter who does not have the above-mentioned identification document he/she will not be allowed to vote; A voter cannot vote on behalf of someone else (article 91, Parliamentary Election Law).
Verifies the voter’s name on the voters’ checklist (article 88.1, Parliamentary Election Law); If the data on the ID card or passport is found conflicting with the data on the check lists, the ID card or passport number shall be used as reference instead. If the number is found not conflicting, the voter is allowed to vote. (article 88.1, Parliamentary Elections Law) Members of the military and the security forces are not allowed to vote even if they are registered as a voter.
Signs and hands to the voter one stamped official envelope (article 88.2, Parliamentary Election Law);
If the polling station runs out of stamped official envelopes (or in case of any force majeure or attempts at cheating), the head has the authority to use replacement official envelopes that are unstamped. The Head will then stamp those envelopes with the polling station stamp and write the date. The reason for the replacement shall be recorded in the minutes (article 87, Parliamentary Election Law). If the head or the voter mistakenly spoils (tears) the envelope, such an envelope should be attached to the minutes and the reason of spoiling should be noted; the voter will be issued another signed envelope.
Instructs the voter to enter the polling booth (article 88.3, Parliamentary Election Law). Any voter who refuses to use the polling booth will be prevented from voting; the head shall take away the envelope, record and attach it to the minutes.
Records in the respective box/column of the voters’ checklist if the voter receives assistance when voting.
3 Step 3: Voting The voter must vote in the polling booth and must be alone inside the polling booth. However, a person with special needs who requires assistance to help them vote is entitled to have any other voter to assist them. The polling station head will supervise the voting by someone who receives assistance (the head must check that the person providing the assistance is of the voterâ€™s choice). A record will be made in the Voter Checklist every time that a person votes with assistance (article 91, Parliamentary Election Law). A voter is entitled to vote for as many candidates that equal the number of seats allocated to the electoral district, based on its confessional distribution (article 89, Parliamentary Election Law). A voter can choose from the list of candidates displayed in the polling booth. The voter has two options on how to vote:
Option One: The voter can write the names of the preferred candidates on a blank piece of paper that is provided inside the polling booth.
If a voter chooses to write the names of the chosen candidates on a blank piece of paper, the voter must write clearly and should write the name of the candidate as it appears on the list displayed in the polling booth.
Option Two: The voter can use a prepared ballot paper (which should be hold discretely) that they have brought to the polling station. If a voter chooses to use a prepared ballot, the voter has the right to â€˜scratch offâ€™ the name of persons on the prepared ballot and add alternative choices. A voter cannot sign the ballot paper, draw symbols or use any identification signs. A voter cannot write insulting remarks on a ballot. The voter must fold the ballot and place it inside the Official Envelope and then seal the envelope.
4 Step 4: Casting the Vote & Inking The polling station head:
Makes sure than the voter has indeed voted in the polling booth (article 90.2, Parliamentary Election Law); If the voter fails to do so, then the envelope will be taken away; the head shall take away the envelope, record and attach to the minutes (without opening it).
Checks/verifies that the voter approaching the ballot box holds only one envelope (article 90.1, Parliamentary Election Law); If the voter holds more than one envelope, the polling station head shall take them all, record the incident, and attach the envelopes to the minutes (without opening them).
Instructs the voter to deposit the envelope in the ballot box (article 90.1, Parliamentary Election Law); No one else except the voter can touch the envelope or place it inside the ballot box (except persons with special needs who receive assistance);
Inks the voter’s left thumb (or in case it’s not possible an alternative finger) with indelible ink as proof that they have already voted (article 90.3, Parliamentary Election Law). To ensure the ink is fluid, it should be shaken every hour. The voter should be informed that the ink will remain present for at least 24 hours.
Asks the voter to sign across his/her name or ink his thumb if he/she is illiterate
Signs next to the voter’s signature (in the column designated for such signature) (article 90.3, Parliamentary Election Law)
Instructs the voter to leave the polling station (unless the voter is a polling station assistant, a candidate, an accredited candidate agent, an accredited observer or an accredited media representative).
People Authorized to Enter the Polling Station
Besides the polling station panel, the following people are authorized to enter to the polling station:
Candidates and their accredited agents (one fixed agent for each candi date or list and one mobile agent for every two polling stations in villages and one mobile agent for every 5 polling stations in cities.) (article 83.1, Parliamentary Election Law);
Accredited observers from Lebanese civil society organizations; Accredited observers from International entities, state representatives and envoys;
Accredited media representatives; To be present in a polling station, a candidate, candidate’s representative, observers and media representatives must display their accreditation documents issued by the Ministry; Candidate Agents’ names will be recorded in the candidate Agent list.
The local and international observers accredited by the Ministry (per the procedure set in article 20, Parliamentary Election Law) may enter the polling stations at any moment to observe the developments of the electoral process. All accredited domestic and international observers must adhere to the provisions, principles and standards outlined in this Code of Ethics issued by the Ministry. Candidates, candidateâ€™s representatives, observers and media representatives are required to act in an orderly way at all times and must not interfere in the electoral process (article 83.2, Parliamentary Election Law). The head cannot prevent a candidate, candidate representative or an observer from exercising their right to stay inside the polling station in order to supervise the voting and counting. A candidateâ€™s representative can only be removed in circumstances where the candidateâ€™s representative acts in a disorderly manner and after the head has warned them. The head will draft the record noting the reason and the time of the event, have it signed by all the candidate agents (present) and immediately send/submit to the respective competent registration committee. The above mentioned will also be recorded in the minutes (article 79.3, Parliamentary Election Law). Media will be asked to leave if there is insufficient space inside a polling station.
Complaints and Remarks during the Polling Day The polling station head shall record in the minutes all the complaints and remarks related to the electoral process and submitted by people who are authorized to be in the polling station, including voters.
Guaranteeing Order in the Polling Center
Only the head has the authority to keep order inside the polling station (article 79.2, Parliamentary Election Law). If the polling station head considers that the sound running of the electoral process is threatened, she may invite security forces inside the polling station. After the order has been restored, the security forces must leave the polling station premises. The polling station head announces the suspension of the polling process and notes the reason of the irregularity in the polling station minutes and after solving the problem, resumes the polling process, noting the time of commencing the polling. Security officers will provide protection to every polling station. They shall maintain order at the entrance of the polling station and around the polling centre. Any electoral or advertising activity (e.g. use of loudspeakers, loud music, party flags and parades) are prohibited in the vicinity of the polling center (article 84, Parliamentary Election Law). The distribution of ballot papers, flyers, or any other documents in favor of or against a candidate shall be banned at polling center entrances or any other place located in the direct perimeter of the center, at the risk of confiscation, without prejudice to all other sentences stated herein (article 72, Parliamentary Election Law).
The End of Polling
At 7:00 pm, the Head will check to see if any voter is waiting in front of the polling station to vote. If no voter is waiting, the head will declare voting to be closed (article 93, Parliamentary Election Law). Voters present in the entrance area of the polling center shall be entitled to vote if the polling time is extended. Such an incident shall be mentioned in the minutes. (Article 93, Parliamentary Election Law) The head will declare voting to be closed as soon as the last voter has voted. The time that voting was closed will be immediately recorded in the minutes. After the polling ends, the polling station head notifies all unauthorized persons to leave the polling station. Only the station panel, candidate agents (permanent and/or mobile) and accredited observers may stay inside the polling station (article 94, Parliamentary Election Law).
Preparation for Sorting and Counting
The polling station head (together with the polling station panel) arranges the room for the counting process:
ď€ ď€ Organizes and puts tables together
Installs the TV set and camera so that all candidate agents and observers can see the screen clearly;
Specifies the seats of the candidate agents and observers. Brings to the table all the documents and templates used in the counting process: The counting sheet; Voters’ checklist; The Vote Results Announcement form; Polling station minutes (2 copies); The Vote Statement form; Ballot box; Packing envelopes The candidates’ list;
The polling station head:
Counts the voters’ signatures (or cross-offs) on the checklist and notes the total number of voters in the minutes (article 94, Parliamentary Election Law)
Checks if the ballot box seal is intact and opens the ballot box by cutting the 6 plastic seals with scissors. Then empties the envelopes onto the table ensuring that the envelopes do not fall on the floor; The Head shows to all present that the ballot box is empty. If the ballot box seals are broken (for any reason) by the time of opening the ballot box, the registration committee should be notified to get further instructions.
Counts the number of envelopes found in the ballot box (article 94, Parliamentary Election Law) and notes the total number of envelopes in the minutes. The number of envelopes cast should be equal to the total of the number of voter’s signatures on the checklist: If there is a difference between the numbers of envelopes and the voters’ signatures, the envelopes and the signatures should be double-checked. If the difference still remains, the head should note in the minutes whether the envelopes are more or less than the number of signatures on the check list.
Sorting and Counting The polling station assistant opens the envelopes one by one and hands the ballot papers to the polling station head; If the envelope has an identification mark or insults to candidates or other persons, the envelope including the ballot paper inside are considered invalid; If the envelope is not the official stamped envelope, the envelope including the ballot paper inside are considered invalid; If the envelope does not have the signature of the Head, the envelope including the ballot paper inside are considered invalid; If there are more than one ballot papers in the envelope, all the ballot papers are cosidered invalid; The invalid envelopes and the ballot papers are sorted in “invalid envelopes ” and “invalid ballot papers” batches respectively.
The polling station head inspects the validity of the ballot paper; The Polling Station head shall consider the ballot paper valid even if: It is blank. It shall be sorted with valid votes; It includes a number of candidates exceeding the number of deputies to be elected, the names of candidates of each confession mentioned first (before the others) shall alone be taken into consideration while counting the votes; The candidates’ names are written with a spelling that is different from the usual spelling known to the Lebanese population such as foreign or hyphenated names, particularly when no other candidate having the same/similar name is running in the same district (article 96, Parliamentary Election Law). 30
Ballot papers are invalid if they:
Contain any identification mark; Contain insults to the candidates or other persons; Were put in envelopes that display identification marks or insults; (Article 96, Parliamentary Election Law) Refer to the circular issued by the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities on invalid ballot papers.
The polling station head holds the ballot paper for the camera surveillance and reads out loud the name or names written on the ballot paper, under the effective supervision of candidates’ agents or observers (if any) (article 95, Parliamentary Election Law); If the ballot paper contains two confusingly indistinguishable candidate names, the ballot paper with its envelope shall be signed by the polling station panel and attached to the minutes which shall mention the reason of such an action. (article 96, Parliamentary Election Law).
The polling station clerk writes the candidatesâ€™ names at the top of each section of the counting sheet; simultaneously as the head reads out the names, in the respective candi dateâ€™s column the clerk crosses the dot vertically; crossing off dots goes from left to right on the dotted row; as soon as the row of 10 dots is finished, the clerk circles the number 10, 20 etc. next to the row; After all the envelopes are opened and the ballot papers examined, the polling station head and the clerk count the number of invalid ballot papers and record it in the Polling Station Minutes; The polling station head and clerk count the blank ballot papers and note the total number in the polling station minutes; The number of valid ballot papers shall be added to the number of valid ballot papers and the total shall be mentioned in the minutes;
The polling station head and the clerk count the dots - votes received by each candidate; the head writes the total number of votes obtained by each candidate at the bottom of the section in the space provided; The polling station head together with the entire polling station panel sign the counting sheet.
Filling the Minutes and the Results Announcement Frorm The polling station head: Fills out the voting results announcement form (based on the counting sheet) in the order of highest number of votes received. The names of all candidates shall be mentioned regardless of the number of votes they obtained. The polling station head announces the provisional voting results; the head and members of the polling station must sign the announcement form. Posts the voting results announcement form on the outside of the polling station door (article 97, Parliamentary Election Law); Fills in the polling station minutes based on the results a nouncement form; The polling station minutes is filled in two copies and all the pages of the polling station minutes are signed by the polling station panel members (article 98, Parliamentary Election Law); Fills out the vote counting statement based on the voting results announcement form. The head and members of the polling station sign the form. Issues the certified copies of the vote counting statement to each candidate agents upon request (article 97, Parliamentary Election Law).
Packing and Submitting Election Materials
The polling station head (article 98, Parliamentary Election Law): packs all the valid ballot papers in the small envelope, seals it with wax and writes the name and number of the polling station on it;
packs all the envelopes retrieved from the ballot box in the medium brown envelope, seals with wax and writes the name and number of the polling station on it;
packs in the white large envelope: The polling station minutes (2 copies); The voters’ checklist (with the voters’ signatures);
The counting sheets; Unused unstamped envelopes (article 87, Parliamentary Election Law);
Invalid ballot papers.
Places the small size envelope into the large envelope; seals with wax and writes the name and number of the polling station on it.
Attaches the medium size envelope to the large envelope; The polling station head and clerk, with security escort, deliver the sealed envelopes to the registration committee office (to the head or the delegate) (article 98, Parliamentary Election Law);
The polling station head and clerk shall both be held responsible if the envelope is found open or altered upon arrival (article 98, Parliamentary Election Law). All the electoral material will be returned to the center where the materials were handed (ballot box, TV set, camera, ink, unused envelopes, etc), and specifically to the employee assigned to carry out his task and who shall confirm receipt of these materials by signing the polling station headâ€™s appointment document. The Ministry of Interior and Municipalities shall take care of returning the booths. The head and clerk of the polling station shall not be paid if they do not deliver the equipment. The polling station head or clerk, who fails to perform his obligations or follow the instructions stipulated in the electoral law, may be jailed for a period ranging from three months to three years or shall pay a fine of one million to three million LBP