Electoral malpractice refers to any illegal or unethical behaviour that occurs during the electoral process, with the aim of manipulating the outcome of an election or undermining its fairness. It can take various forms and can be perpetrated by individuals, groups, or even state institutions. Here are some examples of electoral malpractice:
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1. Voter Suppression: This involves tactics aimed at discouraging or preventing certain individuals or groups from voting. It may include restrictive voter ID laws, purging voter rolls, gerrymandering (manipulating district boundaries to favor a particular party), or limiting early voting options.
2. Ballot Stuffing: This occurs when fraudulent votes are cast by adding fake ballots or manipulating the vote-counting process. It can involve stuffing ballot boxes with fabricated votes or tampering with electronic voting machines.
3. Intimidation and Violence: Using intimidation or violence to influence voters or prevent them from participating in the electoral process is a serious form of malpractice. It can include physical attacks, threats, or coercion targeting voters, candidates, or election officials.
4. Misinformation and Disinformation: Spreading false or misleading information with the intention of influencing voter behavior or undermining trust in the electoral process is a common tactic. This can be done through various channels, such as social media, fake news websites, or propaganda campaigns.
5. Buying Votes: Electoral malpractice can involve bribery or coercion to influence voters to support a particular candidate or party. This can take the form of offering money, gifts, or other incentives in exchange for votes.
6. Electoral Fraud: This encompasses a range of fraudulent activities, including forging signatures, tampering with absentee ballots, double voting, or manipulating the vote-counting process.
7. Coercion and Manipulation of Candidates: In some cases, electoral malpractice can target candidates themselves. This may involve blackmail, threats, or attempts to manipulate the electoral campaign process to disadvantage specific candidates.
Forms of Electoral Malpractices in Nigeria.
- Compilation of fictitious names
- Illegal compilation of separate voter’s list.
- Falsification of election figures.
- Abuse of voter’s list exercise
- Allowing under age to vote
- Harassment, intimidation and victimization of candidates, agents and voters.
- Manipulation of the process by the ruling party
- Corruption and bias at various election tribunals
Causes of Electoral Malpractices
One of the causes of Electoral Malpractice in Nigeria is to perpetuate one ethnic group or party in office at the detriment of other ethnic groups. This is done primarily for selfish and parochial interest i.e. Ethnic/Cultural Hegemony in office forever. This has been the bane of Nigeria political scene since independence.
No thanks to PDP that wanted to impose itself on the populace since May 29th 1999. Thanks to coming to power of Buhari. APC led government in 2015 April election in the presidential election. Long years of Military rule in Nigeria coupled with external influence are traceable factors to electoral malpractice in Nigeria.
WAYS OF PREVENTING ELECTORAL MALPRACTICES IN NIGERIA
- There should be proper delimitation of constituency on equal population basis to give room for equal representation.
- The electoral body must be a true independent body and non-partisan
- The electoral commission must take make proper compilation of names of eligible voter’s list.
- The voter’s registers must be displayed to remove dead one’s name and as well include qualified ones
- Proper and adequate security must be put in place to create conducive atmosphere for electorates to exercise their voting rights.
Electoral malpractice undermines the democratic principles of free and fair elections, erodes public trust in the electoral process, and can lead to illegitimate outcomes. Governments, election monitoring bodies, civil society organizations, and citizens play a crucial role in detecting and preventing such malpractice to ensure the integrity of elections.