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99 7.polling day round the middle of January 1961, we were issued with instructions for polling day, which was due to take place on February 11th. We had to hold a final round of public meetings to explain the exact process of voting and we were also ordered to supervise the construction of polling booths in major centres of population, built according to precise measurements, in such a way as to prevent even the most persistent of observers from seeing which way other people were voting. On entering the booth, each prospective voter would be required to show that his or her name was on the electoral register. The presiding officer or his assistant would then tick off the name on the list, mark the voter’s hand with a rubber stamp impregnated with indelible ink, and issue him or her with a ballot paper, again marked with an official stamp. The voter would then pass into a second compartment, screened off from the first, where the two boxes, one green, one white, were displayed. There was no requirement for any additional crosses or marks on the ballot paper. He or she simply had to place the slip into the green box to indicate a preference for Nigeria, or the white one for the République du Cameroun. As with the registration officers at an earlier stage in the process, it was the PSOs responsibility to find officials—two for each polling booth—and train them for the job they had to do. We also had to find two marshals, usually stalwart ex-servicemen, to maintain security and prevent disorder at each station. The various officers would also be responsible for bringing the sealed boxes to a central collecting point at the end of the day, and for making sure that they were not interfered with in any way. Counting would then be the relatively simple process of totting up the number of slips in each box. We PSOs were ourselves to act as returning officers, checking and then reporting the final count for our own districts. Like every electoral system ever devised there was plenty of room for fraud and manipulation in this process and a great deal depended on the integrity of the officials presiding over the poll. I remember that many people were also anxious to ensure that the polling booths should be impervious to prying eyes. Local building materials for simple structures of this kind, such as raffia and elephant grass, could easily acquire chinks in the walls that would enable those who wished to know to see who was voting in which box. Even if this was only a danger rather than a reality, pressure might still be brought to bear on individual voters. On 10th February, I made a quick tour of as many polling stations as I could reach. There were a few minor problems. Some of the stations were so flimsy that they had to be stiffened up with additional poles. Others had such thin A 100 walls that I thought there was a real danger that voters could be observed as they dropped their slips into the chosen box and I remember getting the builders to thicken up the cladding. Where there was not time to visit the station myself, I sent word to try and ensure that this weakness was addressed. For polling day itself I worked out a schedule that would enable me to visit as many of my stations as I could to ensure that all was going well. I forget exactly how many there were, because some of the registration districts were larger than others, but there must have been around twenty-four all told. There were many I could not possibly visit in the time available and I had to limit myself to those close to the road, so I decided to go to the furthest first. This meant taking the ring road eastwards as far as the turn off for Bum, making the short trek to Fonfukka, and then returning, station by station, to end the day at Wum Three Corner. To start with, all seemed to be going reasonably well, though I remember having, as diplomatically as possible, to eject some of the more prominent big men from the polling stations while the voters were filing in. Although there was no reason why local politicians should not be at the stations to encourage their supporters or to seek an exit poll, I found...


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