It doesn’t make sense for the Electoral Commission of Zambia to extend the voter registration period by just four days. We seem to be terrible judges of how long things take.
Psychologists call this the planning fallacy — a pervasive tendency to underestimate how long it will take to do just about anything — and it can be attributed to several different biases.
First, we routinely fail to consider our own past experiences while planning.
After a month of voter registration experience, we still can’t seem to figure out how long it will take us to reasonably complete this exercise.
Second, we seem to consistently ignore the very real possibility that things won’t go as planned — our plans tend to be “best-case scenarios”. And as a consequence, we budget only enough time to complete the project if everything goes smoothly. Which it never really does.
Lastly, we don’t think about all the steps or sub components that make up the voter registration process, and consider how long each part of the process will take. When you think about painting a room, you may picture yourself using a roller to quickly slap the paint on the walls, and think that it won’t take much time at all — neglecting to consider how you’ll first have to move or cover the furniture, tape all the fixtures and window frames, do all the edging by hand, and so on.
Extending the voter registration period for four days without addressing the poor time planning that landed us in hot water in the first place, we will likely end up in hot water again down the road.
And here is a summary of the things we have learned from the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s press briefing today:1. The voter registration exercise has been extended by four days, running from Thursday 17 December, 2020 – Sunday 20 December 2020.
2. The total number of registered voters is 6,407,752. The Commission did not give a province-by-province breakdown.
3. Important dates: There are a number of important dates the Commission highlighted:
2nd – 6th April 2021:
Verification of registration details. If any of the details on your card or on the new register are incorrect, this will be the period to correct them.
9th May 2021:
Voter registration certification, and cut off date for those who will be turning 18 to be eligible to vote.
Presidential nominations: 14-18 June, 2021.Nominations of MP’s, Mayors, council chairpersons will be on 14 June, 2021. Ward councilor nominations will be one day after, on 15 June 2021. Petitions for nominations will run for 21 days (21 Jun -11 Jul, 2021).
Ballot printing will be the whole of July, from 1-31 July, 2021, for ALL ballots, from councilors all the way up to the President. The verification of ballot papers will happen between 29 Jul – 4 Aug, 2021.
Of course, the general election, the biggest day of them all, will be on August 12, 2021.
If you have not yet registered to vote, those extra 4 days are your lifeline.
Please, please, please I urge you to visit your nearest registration centre and get it done. Never forget that your vote is your voice!