The Senate on Wednesday adopted the amendments to the electoral act carried out by the House of Representatives.
The Act has some amendments as well as changes to the order of the elections.
Below are highlights of the ammendments which the legislature says would deepen the country’s democracy as well as its electoral system.
1. INSTANT TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS
The objective of this new Electoral Act is to reduce human interference in the electoral process and minimize corruption. In this regard, the amendment mandates the immediate transmission of voting results from polling units to collation centers
This means that results will be collated directly from the polling units to collation centres in real time to avoid interference and save time.
2. ONLINE PUBLICATION OF VOTER REGISTERS:
This amendment provides a fair and more level playing ground for all contestants by mandating INEC to publish all voter registers 30 days before the election.
This will end the manipulation of voter registers and treat special cases.
In the case of missing names on the voter register, voters have 30 days to complain to INEC.
This amendment is enshrined on the principles of transparency and accountability.
3. FULL BIOMETRIC ACCREDITATION:
The new Electoral Act Act amendment gives INEC the full powers to utilize full biometric accreditation of voters with smart card readers and/or other technological devices, as INEC may introduce for elections from time to time.
This means that manual verification of voters is cancelled and INEC reserves full right to decline a registered voter from voting if they cannot be verified with biometrics.
4. RESTRICTS ARBITRARY QUALIFICATIONS:
The Electoral Act amendment ensures that political parties can no longer impose tough qualification criteria on candidates. This will encourage younger voters to contest, promote competition in the process & make elections more free & fair
This means that political parties can no longer slam difficult qualification criteria on candidates that only favour the rich. This will surely encourage younger political candidates
5. CONFLICT RESOLUTION MECHANISMS:
The Electoral Act amendment sets out a more detailed process for the determination of candidates, as well as creates dispute resolution systems that will allow those who are aggrieved politically to petition quickly before elections
6: MAXIMUM EXPENSES:
The Electoral Act amendment sets out the maximum expenses that can be incurred by every politician who is seeking election, as well as designates the fees that aspirants will pay to political parties to purchase forms.
This means that our elections will no longer be about money and politics, but about competence.
7. SUBSTITUTION, RESIGNATION & REPLACEMENT:
The Electoral Act amendment ensures that the names of candidates must be submitted not earlier than 90 days before the election, and not later than 60 days before the election.
Additionally, in the case of resignations, the person who is resigning must do so physically (in-person) — and his/her resignation letter will be transmitted to INEC
The Electoral Act amendment specifies that in the case of a death occurring before an election, such election will be suspended for 21 days and a replacement will be done within 14 days. The remaining the 7 days will be used for campaigning.
ORDER OF THE 2019 ELECTION
The order of the 2019 general elections puts that of the National Assembly first, followed by the State House of Assemblies and state governors and the presidential election coming last.
The lawmakers argue that the new order will ensure that voters make their choice of who represents them without any bandwagon effect.
Supporters of the new order have maintained that if the presidential election comes first, the other elections would naturally tilt towards the victorious party at the centre without consideration for the suitability or otherwise of the contestants.