Voter exhibition intricacies

By Frnacis Ameyibor

The Electoral Commission (EC) is going through one of the difficult electoral periods ever since the inception of the fourth republic.

In spite of the challenges, the Commissioners are resolute to ensure free, fair, credible and transparent elections come November 7.

In pursuit of its mandate conferred on it by Article 51 of the Constitution, the Commission is set to implement Constitutional Instrument 91 (C.I.91) – Public Elections Regulations specifically on the Exhibition of the Voters’ Register and as directed by the Supreme Court.

The EC has, therefore, stated that the Voter Exhibition, classified as a major electoral activity towards a credible voter register, will take place in all 29,000 Polling Stations across the country from July 18 to August 7, 2016, to enable all voters to check their names in the register.

The EC is devoting 21 days instead of the usual 14 days for the exhibition, which would also provide the opportunity for correction of the dates on the cards of less than 100 people whose cards were dated wrongly as a result of system errors during the limited voter registration exercise held in April this year.

The C.I. 91 mandates the Commission to cause the provisional register of voters of each Polling Station to be displayed for public inspection at the Registration Centre for the period that the Commission by notice in the Gazette has specified.

During the exhibition period, any registered voter may inspect the provisional register of voters to ascertain that his/her particulars on the voters’ identification card are the same as the particulars contained in the provisional register of voters, and in case of any discrepancy, request the Exhibition Officers to make the necessary correction in the provisional register.

Any person whose application for registration during the registration period was accepted but whose name and other particulars do not appear in the provisional register of voters may make a claim as set out in Form Six of the Schedule for the name and particulars of that person to be entered in the provisional register.

A person entitled to be registered as a voter may object as set out in Form Seven of the Schedule to a person whose name appears in the provisional register of voters on the ground that the person is not qualified to be registered as a voter.

An officer of the Commission may object as set out in Form Seven of the Schedule to a person whose name appears in the provisional register of voters on the ground that that person is not qualified to be registered as a voter.

The Commission shall in addition to the publication provided in sub-regulation post the provisional register on its website.

The Commission shall appoint for each Registration Centre, an Exhibition Officer to exhibit the provisional register.

The Exhibition Officer (EO) shall assist registered voters to find their names in the provisional voters’ register, verify whether the details in the provisional voters’ register are the same as those on the identification card and if there is discrepancy make the necessary correction in the register.

Before making a correction in the provisional register, the EO shall complete the Correction Form as set out in Form Eight of the Schedule indicating the nature of the discrepancy in the voter’s particulars, check for clerical errors and fill in the appropriate form.

The EO is also mandated to receive claims and objections in the prescribed form concerning the inclusion of a person’s name and other particulars in the provisional register and fill the form set out in Form Seven of the Schedule on the ground that a person is not qualified to be registered as a voter.

CLAIMS AND OBJECTIONS AFTER PUBLICATION OF PROVISIONAL REGISTER OF VOTERS

A person who has a right to have the particulars, including the name of that person, to be included in the provisional register or to object to the inclusion of any name or the omission of any name from the register may on the publication of the provisional register, submit a complaint as set out in From Six or Form Seven of the Schedule as the case may be to the EO in respect of any matter relating to the particulars of a person included or omitted in the provisional register.

The EO shall, within three days after the exhibition period has ended, exhibit in a conspicuous place in the Registration Centre a list as set out in Form Nine of the Schedule of persons who have applied to be included in the voters’ register.

A list as set out in Form Ten of the Schedule of persons whose inclusion in the register is the subject of an objection; and a list as set out in Form Eleven of the Schedule of persons whose names occur more than once.

The EO shall send two copies of each of the lists to the District Officer of the EC as well as the exhibited provisional register with the corrections. The Commission may determine the other relevant particulars that are to be contained in the list.

The District Officer of the Commission shall keep a copy of each of the lists of claims and objections at the office of the District Officer and send a copy of the lists of claims and objections to the concerned Regional Director of the Commission.

SETTLING CLAIMS AND OBJECTIONS ON PROVISIONAL REGISTER

A District Officer of the Commission shall, within seven days from the date of receipt of the lists of claims and objections from the Exhibition Officer, submit the complaints and objections to the District Registration Review Officer for determination, and give notice to each person against whom an objection has been raised of the objection, and the reasons for the objection.

In addition, the District Officer shall also furnish the affected persons with information of who has made a claim to attend the hearing presided by the District Registration Review Officer for the determination of the objection or claim.

The Composition of the District Registration Review Committee includes the District Court Magistrate, who shall be the District Registration Review Officer.

A Judge of the High Court, who is appointed the Chief Registration Review Officer of the region in which a district is located, shall appoint a lawyer of not less than three years standing and who is preferably resident in the district to be the District Registration Review Officer, if a District Court does not exist in the district or if the magistrate of the District Court is absent.

THE REVIEW PROCESS

The District Registration Review Officer shall determine the procedure for settling claims and objections but a party to an issue shall be heard in person or may be represented by a lawyer; the lawful possession by a claimant of an authentic identification card issued by the Commission shall be prima facie evidence of registration; and a person is not entitled to make a claim or raise an objection in relation to a matter on which the High Court has made a determination before the period of the exhibition of the provisional voters’ register.

The District Registration Review officer shall, in writing on the same day of making a decision or as soon as practicable, inform the Commission, the person who is making the claim and the person to whom the objection relates of the decision of that District Registration Review Officer.

The Commission shall give effect to the decision of the District Registration Review Officer within 14 days after the person making the claim or the person to whom the objection relates had been informed, unless the Commission has received certified notification of an appeal to the High Court under sub regulation.

A person aggrieved by the decision of the District Registration Review Officer may appeal to the High Court.

The High Court shall as soon as practicable inform the Commission and the parties in dispute of its decision, and the Commission shall give effect to the decision.

PROCEDURE FOR CERTIFYING THE REGISTER

The Commission shall certify the register after the determination of claims or objections through matching of fingerprints in the database of the Commission by automatic fingerprint identification system; examination of facial and personal data of all applications with multiple registrations by an adjudication supervisor of the Commission; and confirmation or rejection of a registered voter by an adjudication supervisor of the Commission.

Others are printing of the adjudication report by the adjudication supervisor of the Commission; and (e) review of the adjudication report of the adjudication supervisor by an Adjudication Review Committee; submission of the report of the Adjudication Review Committee to the Chairperson of the Commission for authentication and approval; and addition of approved names to the final register or deletion of unapproved names from the register.

The Adjudication Review Committee shall be made up of: (i) Directors and selected officers at the Head Office of the Commission; (ii) political party representatives; and (iii) representatives of selected Civil Society Originations to determine all cases of suspected multiple registrations.                

After the register has been certified, it shall be published in the manner determined by the Commission and shall replace any existing voters’ register.

The Commission shall make available a certified copy of the register to the registered political parties and any other person that the Commission considers necessary not later than 21 days after the register has been certified.

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