Malpractice means bad or improper behaviour. Failure to carry out a duty as expected may also be considered a malpractice. Therefore, electoral malpractice is the manifestation of all forms of electoral misconducts, capable of derailing the electoral process.
It is always there before, during and after election periods some influential politicians, electoral officials, security agents, electorate, etc, are the major players in this social menace.
The act is perpetrated in order to gain advantages over others, especially, when it comes to acquisition of political power through electoral process.
Causes of Electoral Malpractices
Some of the causes of electoral malpractice are discussed below;
Poverty is one of the causes of electoral malpractice, especially in African Society. The rate of poverty in most African countries is so high that politicians now hijack this ugly situation to satisfy their selfish ends. They give out money and engage in various malpractices.
The inabilities of most people to read and write had denied them the opportunity of knowing what to do right. Most are the rural people or city dwellers and politicians take advantage of their ignorance to lure them into one form of election malpractice or the other.
Most of the ethnic groups in many country would want to engage in one form of electoral malpractice or the other in order to have their people in the corridors of power. The reason is because most of them want to be relevant in the political dispensation of the country. The Hausa-Fulani of Nigeria society is a typical example.
Lavish and unnecessary spending of public funds by politicians is one of the causes of electoral malpractices.
Over – Ambition of Politicians
They are over ambitious and would want to be in office at all cost. Many of them are not popular in their constituencies and so the only way out is to rig elections, manipulate and falsify electoral figures.
Some politicians who have lost at the polls many times, may engage in different unlawful means to win the election.
Hidden Foreign Influence
Some foreign countries are secretly involved in sponsoring some candidates or political parties in other countries. They strictly monitored every electoral activities in order to make sure that they favour their candidates or political parties. This may result because they want to protect the economic advantages they are enjoying in the affected country.
Forms of Electoral Malpractices
The use of fake ballot papers – Some politicians seeking for power at all cost will go as far as printing fake ballot papers. At times they conspire with the electoral officers to achieve this.
Underage voting – The age of voting in USA, United kingdom and Nigeria is 18 years and above. In some cases, children below this age, have been allowed to vote in elections, thereby violating electoral laws.
Bribery – This is the act of offering money or gifts in order to gain the votes of the people. This dirty act has almost become part of Nigerian and African system. Some notable politicians are deeply involved in this, in order to win the election and be in government.
Artificial scarcity of electoral materials – Some electoral officials in connivance with some politicians could create artificial scarcity of electoral materials in the areas they suspect their opponents are likely to be more popular than they are.
Thugs and intimidation – In most Africam countries, some influential politicians use thugs to intimidate their political opponents. This is common on the day of election or during campaign tours of the political parties. In some cases, these thugs snatch ballot boxes and even cause confusion at polling centres.
Fake manifestos – Manifestoes are programmes of a political party, defining what they intend to do for the people when they win election. In an attempt to get more votes during elections, political parties make an unattainable promises to deceive the mass. Such promises are fake and nothing but deceit.
Stealing of electoral materials – This could be done in many ways. they may decide to steal voters cards and to keep them until election day, creating the opportunity for their supporters to vote twice. The equally decided to steal ballot papers, ink pad and ballot boxes.
Rigging of election results – Rigging of results could be done by electoral officers with the cooperation of party agents, security agents as well as some unscrupulous politicians to favour a particular candidate that might have bribed them. This is mainly to tamper with election results or fortify the figures.
The effects and consequences of electoral malpractices are;
Aparthy – Electoral malpractice may cause citizens to lose interest in political activities. Many of these acts of electoral malpractice have been ongoing and no corrective or positive measures have been taken, resulting to many of the citizens deciding to keep away from politics.
Corrupt Leadership – Leaders that emerge through electoral malpractice will definitely be leaders of corruptive disposition. They assume power to electoral malpractice and then govern the people the way it please them. Economic and financial mismanagement could result from this.
Autocratic Leadership – Electoral malpractice may result to autocratic rule. Since they come to power through corruption, they may not do the wish of the people but rather force their program on the electorates.
Loss of Lives and Property – Lives and properties of some notable politicians and innocent citizens have been wasted due to imposition of candidates on the people.
Military Intervention – Electoralmalpractices can also lead to military intervention. Men in Khaki uniform often come into power under the pretense of restoring peace and order in the country.
International Sanctions – Nations can stand against leaders that came to power through electoralmalpractices. They may want to frustrate them out of office by imposition of sanctions.