Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Is The Electoral Process Being Corrupted Before Registration?

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Section 2 of the Elections Act sets the following qualifications for registration.

Subsection (1)(a) states:

“Subject to section 13  a person shall be entitled to have his or her name entered on a register of voters in a Constituency if he or she

(a) is a citizen of The Gambia;

(b) has attained, or will on the date of the holding of the next election, attain the age of 18 years;

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(c) is resident or was born in that Constituency.”          

Subsection (2) adds:

“Notwithstanding subsection (1) a person’s name shall not be entered on a register of voters in a Constituency unless he or she produces any one of the following documents –

a)   a birth certificate;

b)  a Gambian passport;

c)   a national identity card.”

It is therefore clear that as far as the law is concerned a national identity card is just one of the documents required to be produced to be considered for registration. It stands to reason that unless the law is amended no one should give the impression that one has to produce an identity card before being considered for registration. It stands to reason that a national identity card is just one of the documents to be produced for registration. It appears that because of the cost involved in acquiring a national identity card some political interest groups are preparing to invest in the acquisition of national identity cards by nationals in order to have them in their political camps as it used to be with passport size photographs before the current issuing of the voters’ cards free of cost to the voter.

In the past politicians would provide passport size photographs in order to tie qualified voters by having them registered. In the same vein some political interest groups have openly declared their intention to cash on the poverty of the people to induce them financially to get voters’ cards in exchange for their political loyalty. That would amount to corrupt electoral practice.

The national identity card should have been acquired free of charge by the citizen just like the voter’s card. In that way it could have been the only instrument to be produced before registration. In short, no document should be required to be registered as a voter that would incur cost which prohibits a poor voter to exercise the right to be registered. The IEC should closely monitor the linkage being between the acquisition of a national identity card and being registered as a voter, electoral reform was meant to free the voter from political interest groups. That is why acquiring a voter’s card should be free from any charge.

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