The Gambia has been voting with glass marbles and ballot drums since the 1960s as its solution to eliminate spoilt ballots and allow illiterate voters to participate easily.
This might change as local Standard Newspaper quotes chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Alieu Momarr Njai as saying the ballot system is a “huge logistical nightmare”.
“We cannot afford to continue with this ballot system. With the change of system in governance, Gambians are now participating in politics in numbers and that means in every election, we will have to make lots of drums and paint them with different colours,” Njai told online site The Torch and cited by the paper.
“There are countries using the ballot papers that have lower literacy level than us … These drums are not just expensive to make but you have to paint them with party colours and where you have independent candidates, you have to give each a colour,” he added.
We cannot afford to continue with this ballot system. With the change of system in governance, Gambians are now participating in politics in numbers and that means in every election, we will have to make lots of drums and paint them with different colours.
He also hinted that ballot papers might be adopted during the upcoming local government elections.
“We are working on ensuring that this is done before the local government election because marble is practical and easy when you have few political participants,” he hinted.
Gambia currently has 886, 578 registered voters.
The Glas Marble Voting System
Voters are each handed a glass marble and retreat into an enclosed space where they are faced with the three drums, once they choose their candidate they slip the token into a small hole.
Polling officials will listen carefully for the clang of a bicycle bell which is attached to the end of a tube inside the drum, preventing people from voting more than once.
Sawdust or sand is sprinkled on the bottom of the barrel so that no second sound is heard.
Counting is snappy as the marbles are poured into a wooden tray with 200 or 500 holes and then counted.
The counted votes are immediately declared at the polling stations.