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How to Prevent Electoral Malpractices
Electoral Malpractices is the manifestation of all forms of electoral misconducts, capable of derailing the electoral process.
Ways of Preventing Malpractice in an Elections
Election malpractice and rigging could be reduced if the following steps were taken.
- The involvement of the incumbent administration in the organization and conduct of elections should be reduced to the barest minimum. The funding of elections, for example, should not be tied to the apron strings of government.
- The electoral commission should be an independent and impartial umpire in the elections. The political parties and the people should have confidence its ability to conduct a free and fair election. This could be achieved in several ways.
- First the members of the electoral commission should be men and women of proven integrity appointed or elected from mass organisations, civil society organizations, labour unions and professional bodies. The legislative bodies should screen and approve the appointment of candidates nominated as Chairman or members of the commission. Second, the funds allocated for conducting the elections should be paid into a consolidated fund.
- The Chairman of the electoral commission should be a former Head of State or former President or a person who was generally acknowledged by the citizens as being above board or manipulation. Almost all the chairmen of electoral commissions in majorly 3rd world countries have been accused alone time or the other of working for the government.
- The registration of voters should be a regular and continuous exercise and not a once-and-for all affair. Each region / state in the country should be constituted into a registration centre. Besides, the whole system should be computerized.
The whole idea of waiting till the eve of elections to register voters leaves much to be desired, and the system is prone to manipulation by powerful forces.
- Every voter card should carry the voter’s photograph and thumbprint to avoid impersonation and double voting.
- All the elections should be staggered and organised at different times.
- The organization and conduct of elections should be completely decentralized and no polling centre should have more than 500 voters. The list of voters registered at a centre should be pasted at the polling centre at least one month before the election.
- The votes recorded at each polling booth should be counted immediately after the elections in the presence of party agents and the results should also be released immediately. The electoral officialsat the polling centre should make copies of the results available to representatives of political parties, security agencies, observer groups and the news media. They should be free to publish or disseminate the results.
- There should be strict enforcement of electoral laws.
- The courts should settle election disputes brought before them before the swearing in of winners.
- The government and the electoral commission should de-emphasize the use of money at elections. The monetisation of politics inevitably raises, the stakes in these elections. There should be a ceiling on the amount of money a candidate could spend on an election.
- The local community (e.g. town unions, community development associations, etc) should be actively involved in the organization and conduct of elections. In particular, they should have a say in the screening of candidates for election.
- In a liberal democracy, the electorate is the king. As such the people should be empowered to serve as a check on the manipulation of the electoral process. This could be done through voters education and constant mobilization of the electorate.
- The electoral commission should monitor and publicize the election finances of candidates and parties to ensure they conform to the Electoral Act.
- The security agencies should be directed to maintain neutrality between all parties and candidates, conduct themselves with the highest standards of professionalism and allow all citizens to freely exercise their rights to vote.
- In order to have free and fair election, the political leadership of the highest level should demonstrate clearly their impartiality in the electoral process.
- On no account should public offices and private business be shut down because of elections.