Tuesday, September 8, 2015


By N.Tirant

Democracies and democrats boast that the next best thing to earthly nirvana is the system of "one man, one vote". Not only is it a great leveller, where richest and most influential have as much voting power as the poorest and weakest, but it also guarantees every eligible citizen the right and ability to freely elect a candidate of their choice in a fair and open contest.

Now that’s the theory! In practice some "democracies" have fine-tuned the art of thriving on a system where one man can getaway with many votes! And ludicrous as this may sound, it would be relatively easy to pull off!

Whilst most observers, international or local, are content to focus their attention on the election campaign counting the seconds allocated for political broadcasts, or the absence of voter violence and intimidation ahead of polling, or how long voters wait in queues to exercise their right or the ease with which they cast their votes, many lip-service "democrats" have worked out "deals" to twist the wheels of democracy and slip through the observers’ blind spots and get away with electoral fraud!

It begins quite innocently with an electoral roll containing thousands of names automatically tied to the civil status register, from where every registered birth by age 18 and up to 15 months before ends up on the list, regardless of whether the child lived or died, emigrated or is too mentally challenged to be capable of exercising the right to vote. Naturally, the same civil status should just as automatically remove the names of those who die in the year. But through a little oversight, provoked by error or by design, the deceased could well remain on the roll and continue voting in many an election long after moving on to the heavenly nirvana.

James Michel voting with phantom voter, Donald Duck, waiting his turn
A law or the constitution, as in our case, could declare that a non-resident citizen or one who has taken up residence for more than six months in the state penitentiary can’t vote. But the burning question is how can we keep the register correctly updated in these instances, if the voter is the only one who can check his own name on the roll?

It’s easy to see how any voters’ register in such circumstances could end up with far more names than actual people on the ground.

It’s even easier to see how any maverick could seize the golden opportunity for universal suffrage to offer him perpetual continuity! A golden pond of absentees just waiting to be tapped to the maverick’s advantage simply by getting them to vote when necessary!

Now that may not be as impossible as you may think; nothing a special pool of "friends" couldn’t pull off come polling day!

Launch a national campaign for ID card renewals with a simple declaration that invalid cards won’t be accepted as proof of identity on the day, and along with the genuine candidates for renewal, the "citizen extras" can be equipped with multiple identities in time to be "bussed" around from one station to the next exercising those "special" rights on the day.

Whilst this may be speculation, the scenario is possible especially in our local context where as far back as 1998 the post-election report of the joint Commonwealth/La Francophonie observer group flagged issues with our voters’ register. The observer group reported that some concern had been raised about the proportionately high number of registered voters in relation to the size of the general population.

The group noted then that the 56,399 names on the electoral register certified on 24 February 1998 didn’t tally with the August to October 1997 census which produced an estimated total population of 78,496 of which 50,054 were of voting age.

According to the report, 9,091 names were added to the register at the start of 1998 bringing the total of electors to 59,145, after which 2,626 names were deleted for various reasons.

The single-man electoral commissioner at the time pointed to the country’s low 1.6% birth rate as a possible explanation and “a high rate of emigration and explained that there were many persons on the electoral register who actually lived abroad,”according to the report.

In their conclusions after the 2001 early presidential elections, La Francophonie observers suggested that the computerization of the civil status register and the electoral roll would guarantee transparency in the election process. But nothing was ever done and the overcharged list remains not only electoral fraud waiting to happen, but can entirely falsify our democracy, affecting percentages and cancelling out genuine efforts of electors!

That’s why, instead of resisting efforts to hand over electronic copies of the voters’ roll that political parties can check, cross check, countercheck and review, the electoral commission would do far better, in the national interest of democracy,to give all citizens access to the whole register in the hope that a nation-wide exercise can help weed out the dead, imprisoned, and non-resident citizens to ensure that the next elections are above reproach and don’t give a voice to some from beyond the grave.

Source:Today in Seychelles