EC seeks to abolish no-verification no-vote

The Electoral Commission is seeking to pass a new legislation  that will make it possible for electorates to vote without being verified.

The Commission is by that same legislation seeking to indemnify its presiding officers from any form of punishment or prosecution.

The new constitutional instrument, if passed into law, will have far reaching implications on the 2016 elections which is just five months away.

A copy of the instrument which was intercepted by Joy News’ Parliamentary correspondent, Elton John Brobbey is already creating some drama on the floor of Parliament.

Even before the Deputy Majority Leader will lay the document before Parliament, some Members of Parliament protested, saying they had not received copies of the document.

Per Parliamentary procedures, documents are presented to Members before they are laid before the House. After brief protestations the document was laid.

The provisions in the new Legislative Instrument seek to fundamentally change elements in the previous instrument, CI 75,  used for the 2012 elections.

Whilst the CI 75 made explicit instructions for all voters to be verified before voting, which triggered the catch phrase no verification no vote, the new document requires all party agents to agree before a voter, who could not be verified, would be allowed to vote.

Section 31 (5) of the new document, Public Election Regulation, 2016, said “Where the biometric verification device fails to verify a voter and the red light is shown with a voice message “REJECTED” the polling assistant shall;

(a) inform the agents of the political parties present at the polling station”

The voter will then be allowed to vote if all the agents agree.

The new CI also attempts to indemnify the presiding officers from any form of prosecution. The attempt may come as a surprise to critics, some of whom, called for the presiding officers to be prosecuted in 2012 for acts they considered to be negligent.

The commissions and omissions of the presiding officers became a bone of contention in the 2012 election petition that was sent to the Supreme Court.

The petitioners accused the presiding officers of collusion or negligence in the conduct of the 2012 elections.

The new CI, if passed into law, will protect the presiding officers in the event they make mistakes.

The new CI however has some good news for media practitioners who were not allowed the luxury of an early voting in the 2012 election.

Per the new CI, security officers, election officers and media personnel accredited by the National Media Commission will be allowed to vote a day before the election.

The CI is however yet to be passed into law.