From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

Gambians vote with their marbles

Gambians are voting for their president with a unique marble system.
Voters enter a booth and pop a clear glass marble into one of three
drums representing the candidates, instead of a putting a ballot paper
into a box. As the marble falls into the drum, it hits a bell so
officials can tell if anyone votes more than once. “It’s a unique
system introduced in 1965 because of Gambia’s high illiteracy,”
Gambia’s chief electoral officer Kawsu Ceesay told the BBC.

The bell resembles a bicycle bell so bicycles are banned from around
polling stations to avoid any confusion. “Three drums representing the
three presidential candidates will be in the compartment attached to
one another so they can’t be lifted to see which is heavier,” he says.

“The drums are painted in the colour of the candidate’s party and have
their photograph and party symbol.” Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh’s
drum is green and his rivals Ousainou Darboe and Halifa Sallah are
yellow and grey respectively. Sand or sawdust is also put into the
bottom of the drum before it is inspected by party agents and shut with
numbered seals so that a second sound is not heard. Afterwards voters
have their finger dipped in indelible ink.

Marbles have to be posted through a pipe at the top of the drum and
those left on top are regarded as spoilt ballots. “The system also
makes the counting process much more transparent,” Mr Ceesay says. The
marbles are placed into trays with either 200 or 500 holes – similar to
a solitaire board – which makes it easy for officials to verify numbers.