Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Are DDC machines A New Way To Rig An Election?

This is not a  how to manual, rather, it is a denouement. Elections are all about numbers. In some elections, the candidate with the most votes, wins. In others, a candidate must score a particular percentage in a number of states,or zones. It could be two thirds of the votes cast, or fifty one percent.

So elections are all about getting more votes than your opponent!

I will reveal some of the ways I have observed in my travels.

The easiest way to rig, which many do,even in advanced democracies, is gerrymandering! This is simply redrawing the boundaries of a voting district in such a way as to deny the opposition the majority it has as a result of a perceived voting pattern.

For those who do not know, if Party A is strong in a district with a particular ethnic, or demographic group, and Party B is in power, all Party B has to do is redraw the boundaries, and cause that previously strong district to now fall into four new districts! This automatically denies the opposition that majority!

In Nigeria however, there are no statistics to work with, so it is almost useless to gerrymander.

Instead, rigging involves the following methods, the buying of votes with money, stuffing of ballot boxes, denying voting materials to areas sympathetic to the opposition, intimidation, through violence, and  the potential new kid on the bloc to deliberately ensure that fewer Direct Data Capture machines, DDCs, are supplied to states that could be sympathetic to the opposing candidate. 

Some interesting scenarios are already emerging. I read somewhere, that in one particular state of the North, I cannot recollect which one exactly, there were fewer people registered than in another state in the South:what makes this story curious, is  that the Northern state, from the last census exercise,is supposed to have more people than the Southern state!

It is possible that this could be as a result of more people being mobilized in the Southern state, or a simple case of pre-election rigging. 

If you can deny your opponent legitimate votes "legitimately" by simply reducing how many people can vote for him, you are already half-way to winning the election!

It is because of convenient mistakes like this, that some of us called for President Jonathan not to run. We wanted him to put Nigeria ahead of his personal interests.We believed that as a disinterested umpire, he would have been in a better position to reset our politics, by ensuring  free, and fair, elections. 

But that is all wishful thinking, and unfulfilled history now.

The opposition needs to begin their vetting of the forthcoming elections, by examining the registration of voters.

They need to look at how these machines were deployed, when, and where they were deployed. In one state of the East, three machines were sent by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to a forest, near a shrine! In the same state, many people were struggling to register for paucity of machines!

If they find reasonable evidence, that points to pre-election rigging, they should seek legal redress!

As the elections approach,


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