We welcome NEC’s call for views in improving voters register

27Dec 2019
Editor
The Guardian
We welcome NEC’s call for views in improving voters register

We welcome the statement by the Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairman, Judge (Rtd.) Semithocles Kaijage that his Commission invites ideas from all people who hold reasoned views to offer on the improvement of the Permanent Voter Register (PVR).

He said NEC has often been doing its work in collaboration with various stakeholders for the improvement of the register and the conduct of elections in general.

 

He added that in order to realise this goal, NEC has incorporated various groups of stakeholders including leaders of political parties, civil society and people with disabilities, he said.

We however give a word of caution seeking – views might not be the same as incorporating those views in the conduct of elections as past history restifies. Besides, as he said, the conduct of elections and all matters pertaining thereto is vested in NEC according to Section 74(6) of the 1977 Constitution; hence one might say proper conduct of the entire process is something to be revered – it is entrenched in the constitution.  

For elections misconduct could spell disaster and for testimony of this we need not go farther than what befell one neighbouring country just over a decade ago and the all the arduous task it took to calm things down, the task that included mediators from our country.  We sometimes tend to forget that as our political leaders conduct political business to get into government, that government means ourselves and not an alien power over us, as that ended 58 years ago.

If they are to be raised from their graves, ancient Athenians would be infuriated to discover that the result of their efforts in ensuring mankind are governed justly, by elected representatives of their own choice had come to naught.

Hence the ultimate rulers of our democracy are the voters of this country. That, of course is what it ought to be – voters ruling over themselves.

So with all this in mind including the challenges glimpsed in last month’s civic elections, there is a need for NEC and all other stakeholders to be much serious in the preparations of the big one – next year’s General Elections.

What it needs is not just welcoming the so called well reasoned views for the improvement of the Voter Register but also well reasoned views for the conduct of the entire election – as voters registration is just one process, no less important though. It serves no one, let alone the democratic process itself if after people have registered themselves to vote, they don’t find their names on the lists posted at the polling centres.

Or what could be the justification, positive justification for the returning officers to engage in ‘disappearing acts’ whenever some party approved candidates want to lodge their nomination forms? This practice has been widespread in the past, but more so for by-elections.

We therefore believe that NEC’s advertised quest for people to offer reasoned views for the conduct of elections should look into these issues and a host others that have often been talking points at election time.