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In today’s class, we will be talking about types of voting. Enjoy the class!
Types of Voting
- Public or Open Ballot and Secret Ballot System of Voting.
- Merits and Demerits of each type of Voting.
- Free and Fair Election-Meaning, Condition Necessary for the Conduct of a Free and Fair Election.
TYPES OF VOTING
PUBLIC OR OPEN BALLOT SYSTEM
This is a system of voting in which voters vote at an open place in the clear view of candidates and the electorate. Under this system, the voters at election indicate their support for a candidate by a show of hands or queuing behind the candidate of their choice or his poster. In an open ballot, there are no pooling booths; ballot papers etc. This system of voting became popular during Babangida’s regime in Nigeria.
MERITS OF OPEN BALLOT
- The open ballot is cost-effective in the sense that a lot of money that would have been used in building polling booths, printing ballot papers will be saved.
- The open ballot system is very simple and easy to understand
- Open ballot system helps to prevent rigging vices such as illegal printing of ballot papers, voters cards, thumb-printing of ballot papers etc.
- The results of the open ballot system are easy to ascertain because everything is done openly, not secretly.
- It helps to avoid double-voting, unlike in secret balloting where one person can vote as many times as possible
- It makes election results to be known in a very short period of time.
DEMERITS OF OPEN BALLOT SYSTEM
- The open ballot system is often associated with intimidation and victimization of opponents, hence; is highly susceptible to manipulation.
- It is difficult to guarantee maximum security, adopting the open ballot system.
- It will disenfranchise influential people. It will not be possible for people like the president, governors, and traditional rulers to queue up openly with the masses.
- It is difficult to control the crowd during an election when the open ballot system is adopted.
- The system is time consuming.
- The system can create enmity.
- Many voters will be discouraged from voting in elections where open ballot system is adopted.
SECRET BALLOT SYSTEM
This is the method by which voters indicate support for a candidate through the ballot under complete secrecy. At the polling booth, he collects a ballot paper which bears the names and symbols of all the contesting political parties or candidates. He enters into an enclosure or moves away from public view to thumbprint his candidate of choice and then drops the ballot into the ballot box.
MERITS OF SECRET BALLOT SYSTEM
- The voter is free to cast his vote according to his choice without any fear of intimidation or embarrassment from anybody.
- The system is democratic.
- The system is more popular and more widely accepted than any other type of voting system.
- Voters are given the freedom of choice to vote for the candidate of their choice alone.
- The system encourages political participation.
DEMERITS OF SECRET BALLOT SYSTEM
- It is very expensive to operate. The cost of the materials needed for the election like the ballot box, ballot papers etc. may be too costly.
- The system encourages electoral malpractices.
- The electorates may not be able to handle the ballot papers well thereby spoiling their own votes.
- The system is time-consuming.
- The whole system of voting is very tedious and difficult to understand.
This is a system of voting in which it is made compulsory for all eligible voters to do. Proponents of this system argue that since voting is a civic duty of a citizen. Failure to vote is regarded as a criminal offence and punishable under the law.
In this type of voting, an eligible voter is not compelled to vote. He has the choice of whether or not to vote.
VOTING BY POST
This system entails a registered voter voting from outside his registered area. The vote is sent through the post, this is in the case of a person travelling outside his area or country.
VOTING BY PROXY
If a voter is absent owing to certain excuses, he or she could be voted for in absentia through an authorized representative.
SECRET OPEN VOTING
This system of voting combines both the elements of open and secret voting system. Voters are gathered at an open place, then they are counted to know their total number. When the actual voting starts, each voter casts his or her vote at a place where nobody sees whom he/she votes for in turns.
FREE AND FAIR ELECTION
A free and fair election refers to one conducted in an atmosphere devoid of harassment, intimidation and other coercive means. It can also be seen as one conducted according to the principles and practices of democracy.
CONDITIONS NECESSARY FOR THE CONDUCT OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTION
- There must be the establishment of an electoral commission, which must be impartial and must not allow interference from outside.
- There must be political parties to contest elections.
- The country should be divided into constituencies on an equal basis to ensure equal representation.
- The legislature must enact electoral laws to be carefully followed by the commission, the candidates and the electorates.
- There should be public counting of votes. This should be done under strict security.
- Announcement of election results should not be delayed after counting.
- There must be equality of campaigning conditions.
- There should be adequate remuneration for election officials.
- Election officials should be given adequate training.
- Secret voting should be adopted.
- Provision should be made for the challenge of election results in the court of law.
ORGANISATION OF ELECTION
For an election to be conducted, it has to follow an organized pattern. This is known as the stages of the election.
STAGES OF ELECTION
- The electoral acts and rules governing the elections are formed.
- The electoral commission which is a body that conducts the election is set up by the government.
- Electoral districts are created and delimitation of constituencies is carried out.
- Political parties are registered by the government.
- The names of eligible and qualified voters are registered. The voters’ register must be displayed before an election so that each voter can know his polling booth.
- Candidates are nominated by the parties. Where two or more candidates are contesting, a primary election is held to determine who represent the party at the general election.
- A campaign kicks off. This is a period of time set aside for political parties to tour the country with their manifestoes to the electorates.
- The Election Day is the day the electorate is allowed to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.
- The electoral commission declares the result of the election stating the winner. An aggrieved candidate can go to the electoral tribunal to contest the validity of an election.
- What are the conditions necessary for the conduct of free?
- Explain the following (i) Voting by post (ii) voting by proxy (iii) Compulsory Voting (iv) Optional Voting.
- List and explain the features of government.
- Discuss 5 functions of government.
In our next class, we will be talking about the Electoral Commission. We hope you enjoyed the class.
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