The vote on December 21 has thrust the issue of General and Regional elections into the spotlight. While the government is pursuing legal options and interpretations of the event and its consequences, the opposition insists that irrespective of the government seeking legal interpretations, elections should be held within the time stipulated in the Constitution.
Editor, assuming the Government is not successful in its legal pursuit, there are issues that concern me greatly.
One of my concerns regarding the vote on December 21 and the 90-day stipulation, is the possibility of going to elections without allowing persons who have come of age to vote but did not get an opportunity to register.
They will not have the opportunity to vote. These are youth who were 15 years old in 2015 and are now 18 years old in 2019. The population data tells us that youth (persons under 40) will comprise 70% of the population in 2020.
The number that may be disenfranchised is not clear, but this could be tens of thousands of citizens who would essentially be disenfranchised. That represents a large portion of the citizens that will not be able to exercise their constitutional right to elect their own leaders.
Another issue is the usual GECOM claims and objections period, where persons can change their address and thus vote at a polling station closer to where they currently live.
If we don’t allow house-to-house registration and the claims and objections it could result in a low voter turnout, similar to LGE.
If we are aware of this, and insist on going to elections, is that tantamount to voter suppression?
The circumstances that have caused General and Regional elections to be in the national discussion are already entangled in controversy and split the nation. I believe that we must ensure that the process of holding elections be held to an even higher than normal standard. Editor, exercising your constitutional right, should not infringe on my constitutional rights, nor should it infringe on the rights of youth to participate in free and fair elections.
AFC Region 4 Chair