Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, February 16, 2015

Voter fraud postponed

The election has been "delayed," and so has the voting fraud in Nigeria.

By hook, crook or chequebook
NO GOVERNMENT in Nigeria has ever come to power through credible elections. Even in colonial times stuffing ballots was the norm. Since independence few aspiring leaders have troubled much with the niceties of elections. Until 1999 military coups were more prevalent than ballots…

The election in 2007 marked a particularly low point, when candidates reportedly garnered millions of fake votes in some 30,000 fake polling stations… The 2011 elections were an improvement but ballot-stuffing was still evident. One innovative wheeze was, as the EU observed rather drily, “the high number of under-age registered voters” who took part in the election.

This time the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has wiped millions of duplicated voters from the electoral roll, issued voter cards and installed biometric machines to stop people casting more than one vote…

Officials fret that party thugs may smash biometric machines. Using the police or army to influence the vote is also common. Last year the All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition, complained that the army had rounded up its officials and supporters ahead of a vote to elect the governor of Ekiti, a key southern state. Politicians from the ruling party say that it played no part in instigating the arrests and that it won the election fairly.

Even if neither party tries to rig these elections, Nigerians may not see
them as having been free and fair. With ten days to go before the [scheduled] vote, only 44m of 68.8m voter cards [had] been distributed. Opposition strongholds such as Lagos are among the worst affected, activists say.

Another problem is the Islamist insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east, an APC heartland…

Little wonder that a recent Gallup poll found that only 13% of Nigerians trust the ballot (see chart). With such question-marks hanging over the election, losers are likely to cry foul. An outbreak of violence seems all too likely.

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