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Solutions to the problems of Electoral Commission

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Every now and then general elections in some African countries have degenerated into chaos after results are declared. At best, losing parties resort to constitutional means to have their concerns addresses.

In Ghana, after the 2012 general elections, the losing candidate at the time, Nana Addo-Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, took the Electoral Commission to the Supreme Court. In the 2018 Zimbabwean first general elections after long-serving Robert Mugabe was removed from office, the losing candidate, Mr. Nelson Chamisa alleged fraud and took to the constitutional court for redress.

There are several problems that lead to allegations of fraud and refusal to accept election results declared by Electoral Commissions in Africa, including but not limited to processes leading to the elections and happenings during and after the elections. This article discusses some solutions that can be applied so that Electoral Commissions can nail their jobs right where they should.

Election Vote Box Ballot Voting Charity Do
A ballot box

Adequate funding
One of the solutions to the problems of Electoral Commission is to provide adequate funding for them to can comfortably perform the duties prescribed for them under the constitution. Many times, ruling governments delay unduly the funds that are supposed to be released to the Electoral Commission to adequately prepare for work before, during and after the election. Inadequate funding mostly distorts the calendar prepared by the Commission for the election. This sometimes leads to accusations from opposition parties that the ruling government is manipulating the process.

Tenure of office
The tenure of especially the Chairman and other members of the Commission must not be at the dictates of the executive. The tenure of the Commission must always be held sacrosanct; however, somehow, the executive still finds a way to intimidate some members of the Commission into submission forcing them to do what would inure to their benefit. If the tenure of the members of the Commission is protected till they reach the age of retirement, it would solve some of their problems.

Appointment process
Another step that can resolve the problems of the Electoral Commission is the mode of their appointment. Mostly, the Chairman and members of the Electoral Commission are appointed by the executive. A member who is appointed by the ruling government may be easily influenced by the person appointing him or her. The Justice Uwais-led Electoral Reforms Committee of Nigeria once recommended that the Electoral Commission must not be appointed by the ruling government but rather by a different appointing body. The question is who appoints members to the supposedly neutral appointing body?

Elections Vote Sheet Paper Pen List Docume
Election vote sheet
Less government interference
Again, it would do the Electoral Commission a lot of good if the government of the day does not interfere unduly in the way they do their work. Too often, governments attempt and with varying degrees of success in determining the work of the Commission. This in many ways undermines the integrity of the electoral process and froths it with several disputes. If ruling governments take their hands off the Electoral Commission, it would do a world of good.

Good remuneration
Another solution to the problems of the Electoral Commission is that they must be well-paid. Their salaries must be made to be equivalent to those of the Supreme Court judges and it should not be varied to their disadvantage. By extension, all workers of the Commission from top to bottom must be well paid and given many other incentives. This is not however a silver-bullet because the fact that they are well paid does not mean they can still not be influenced by money to bring the electoral process into disrepute.

Integrity of members
A final solution, probably, is the integrity of the members of the Commission. Integrity is very crucial because at the end of the day, if the members of the commission lack sincerity it does not matter which brilliant mechanisms are put in place, the problems will continue to persist. Commission members must act above board and realize that they have been put in their position to perform a duty for the state. Therefore, they must leave a lasting legacy for those after them to emulate.

It is believed that when these suggested solutions are implemented, a lot of the problems of the Electoral Commission would be solved if not all.

The functions of the Electoral Commission
The problems of the Electoral Commission

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