Commissioners in Kenya’s polling body have finally agreed to leave office after months of anxiety regarding their fate as the country inches closer to the 2017 elections. The nine commissioners, led by Chairman Issack Hassan, on Wednesday told a joint parliamentary committee comprising members of the country’s National Assembly and the Senate that they are ready to leave office through a political settlement for the sake of peace. That means the joint committee, co-chaired by Senators Kiraitu Murungi and James Orengo, will now have to craft a bill that allows the commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to leave office before the end of their term in September 2017 as part of the larger electoral reforms.
A group of Iraqi legislators plans to submit a petition to the speaker of parliament requesting the deposition of executive council members of the Independent High Electoral Commission with an eye toward the commission’s dissolution. The group objects to the commission having been formed based on the quota system, as a result of members being nominated by the parliament, and thus in a corruptive manner. More than 100 members of parliament from the Al-Ahrar bloc, affiliated with the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Reform Front, close to former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, signed the petition July 19. The move, coming less than a year before local elections, seems to have become a ritual preceding every election. This time, the demand is being packaged as part of the ongoing push for political reforms. At a protest in Baghdad on July 15, Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, had called for the commission to be dismissed because of its basis in the partisan, sectarian quota system. He is calling for a technocratic electoral commission with members appointed by the judiciary, a proposal that would require new legislation.
Chadian unions and rights groups on Friday pulled out of several state institutions, including the election commission, saying they felt “gagged” in the run-up to closely-watched presidential polls. The announcement of the groups’ withdrawal from Chad’s electoral commission and other bodies comes a day after the trial of four leading activists held on controversial charges of disturbing the peace was postponed, prolonging their detention. “Given the decision to maintain our comrades in detention, we have decided to withdraw” delegates from forums including the CENI (electoral commission), Goukouni Vaima, the deputy head of the UST labour federation, told a press conference.
David Cameron’s reforms to the voting system have narrowly survived an attempt to kill them off in the House of Lords, despite warnings from the Electoral Commission that people could be disenfranchised. Peers rejected a fatal motion that would have stopped the Conservatives bringing forward use of a new electoral register to December 2016, even though it contains up to 1.9 million fewer names than the old register. The new register requires everyone to be registered as an individual, which differs from the old system under which the head of a household was able to register all occupants. The narrow win will be a relief for Cameron after the House of Lords voted down the government’s cuts to tax credits on Monday.
United Kingdom: Scrap the £500 deposit to run for parliament, says Electoral Commission | The Guardian
The £500 deposit required to run for parliament should be scrapped in order to enable a wider range of candidates to stand, says the Electoral Commission. A report by the election regulator sets out a range of recommendations to update the rules on standing for election, which it says are “complex, out-of-date and difficult for candidates to navigate”. It describes the rule that candidates should provide a £500 deposit – which they lose if they do not win 5% of the vote – as unreasonable. “We do not think that the ability to pay a specified fee is a relevant or appropriate criterion for determining access to the ballot paper,” the report says. The watchdog recommends that if deposits are scrapped, candidates should still be required to gather the signatures of a set number of supporters to show that they are seriously contesting an election.
Nationalist candidates of Bosnia’s Croats, Muslims and Serbs were ahead in the race for the country’s tripartite presidency, partial results showed early Monday. Bakir Izetbegovic, head of the main Muslim SDA party, looked set to win his second term as the Muslim member of the joint presidency. Izetbegovic, son of Bosnia’s late wartime leader Alija Izetbegovic, won 33.16 percent of the votes, according to results based on almost 77 percent of ballots counted. His main opponent, local media mogul Fahrudin Radoncic, garnered 26.67 percent, the early results from the electoral commission showed.
A public law expert says the Electoral Commission – which has recently cautioned against a song, a fashion exhibition and a rugby billboard – is very risk averse and conservative in its interpretation of electoral law. The commission last week banned the satirical song Planet Key from television and radio broadcasts, and cautioned against a billboard for a rugby game which parodied National’s election hoardings. Now it has taken aim at an exhibition showcasing the late Labour MP Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan’s wardrobe because the opening is due to fall on election day. The Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust has moved the opening to the following weekend after the Electoral Commission advised any reference to the Labour Party would have to be removed on September 20.
Colin Craig’s Conservative Party may be buying into a fight over the proposed alternative logo it is trying to register with the Electoral Commission. The logo which the party wants to have printed on ballot papers is a round blue speech bubble which simply says “Vote” in white writing. However it was been criticised on Twitter over the weekend, including by Labour’s Northcote candidate Richard Hills who said it was confusing. Electoral Commission rules state a logo will not be accepted if is “offensive, indecent, misleading, confusing, referring to an honour or title, or infringing someone else’s intellectual property rights”.
Thailand: Prime Minister calls for election, opposition to keep up the fight despite martial law | Deutsche Welle
Caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan told reporters in Bangkok on Tuesday that his government had written to Thailand’s electoral commission to propose that a general election be held on August 3. He also said he hoped to “submit a royal decree” for the king’s endorsement and that his government would “engage in reforms before the election,” without providing any details. The army announced in the early hours of Tuesday that it was imposing martial law, but also denied that this amounted to a military coup. In a televised statement, the head of the army, General Prayuth Chan-ocha said the move was designed to head off a possible new violent confrontation between supporters of the opposition and the government. “There are some groups with bad intentions to create unrest, and threatening to use weapons on the people,” he said. “I’m asking all those activist groups to stop all activities and cooperate with us in seeking a way out of this crisis,” he added. Earlier, the prime minister had said he supported the army’s decision to impose martial law in an effort to restore order.
Andriy, a young entrepreneur from Slovyansk, won’t be voting in this weekend’s presidential election for fear masked gunmen who’ve taken over the small Ukrainian city will slay anyone who dares try. Separatists intent on abandoning Ukraine for Russia want to torpedo the ballot and have overrun half of the electoral offices in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, together known as Donbas. Tactics include abducting voting officials and issuing death threats, the Electoral Commission says. Thirteen servicemen died yesterday amid a push to repel the militants. “You can be killed for showing a position that’s different from them,” said Andriy, who asked that only his first name be used for fear of reprisals. “People have been killed here just because they brought some food to Ukrainian soldiers.”
A majority of Tunisian Constituent Assembly members on Thursday voted for a prominent law professor to become the head of the country’s High Electoral Commission. Law professor Mohamed Shafiq Sersar won 153 votes, out of a total of 203 votes in a heavily attended session. The assembly on Wednesday picked the nine members of the independent commission, while Sersar proved to be a unifying figure for everybody inside the representative body. The High Electoral Commission is due to start its mission by working on a series of technical issues before settling on the date of general elections.
The 7 members of the Electoral Commission have been announced today after being appointed by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. Those who will make up the 7 member Electoral Commission were revealed by the Attorney General and Minister for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum this afternoon. The Commission is made up of 7 prominent citizens from various walks of life headed by its Chair, leading legal practitioner Chen Bunn Young, who is a former President of the Fiji Law Society. The other members are academic Professor Vijay Naidu of USP, the tourism industry leader and marketing expert James Sowane, accountant and financial advisor Jenny Seeto, the filmmaker and media specialist Larry Thomas, electoral expert and priest Father David Arms and the educationalist and civil society leader Alisi Daurewa.
Fiji: Academic says Fiji needs to set up an Electoral Commission as soon as possible | Islands Business
An Auckland University political scientist says the Fiji Government needs to set up an Electoral Commission as soon as possible, in preparation for the country’s approaching elections. A general election is promised for September but the members for the commission and an election supervisor are yet to be appointed. Stephen Ratuva says an Electoral Commission is needed soon. “Some names have been bandied around but nothing has been confirmed yet so they are still looking for people to be on the commission – that’s a very very important aspect of the electoral process – to have a commission in place and also the electoral regulations to be in place before the election. Because the electoral commission will basically look after the election process.”
Very many political analysts in Uganda have opined that the current Electoral Commission cannot conduct free and fair election. There seems to be wide agreement that there is need to have an election-management body that fits into the modus operandi or aspirations of the multi-party political dispensation which we embraced in 2005. We should not forget that the current EC was introduced through efforts of a single party; therefore, the perception that it is partial, prevails. This has not been helped by the manner of appointment of commissioners of the EC prescribed in the 1995 Constitution which gives the president the power to appoint the commission and also the power to fire it without recourse to any other body. That is why any right-thinking Ugandan should support the bid by Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) to amend articles of the Constitution that talk about the composition of the EC as well as some sections of the Electoral Commission Act.
Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) has come under criticism after the Supreme Court confirmed the electoral victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta. But IEBC Commissioner Yusuf Nzibo says the criticisms are unjustified because the commission faced various challenges during the March general election. Critics say the IEBC oversaw a flawed voting process, which they contend led to an election dispute that was finally settled by the Supreme Court. They also said the electoral commission failed to adequately educate voters in the run up to the vote. Nzibo disagrees.
Local government elections were scheduled to take place in April 2011 but preparations were discontinued due to an impromptu sealing of MEC offices by late president Mutharika in December 2010. However, the commission dares that come May 2014 Malawians will be given the opportunity to vote for ward councillors in addition to electing their parliamentarians and president. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the re-demarcation exercise was not completed in 2010 because the Commission was closed. “At the time of closure, we had only finished collecting information. This information is what the technocrats and experts call scenarios on the new boundaries that would help us develop new maps,” said Commissioner Archbishop Emeritus Dr. Bernard Malango in Chikhwawa Monday January 14 2013.
Guinea has sworn in a new electoral commission after an initial boycott by the opposition, which claimed the government had tampered with its list of nominees, state television announced on Thursday. A political stalemate in the world’s top bauxite producer has since last year stalled legislative polls needed to complete a shift to civilian rule after a 2008 coup and unblock international aid.
The Electoral Commission (EC) on Monday set-out acts and inactions that may constitute electoral offences in Election 2012 and called on the political parties and other democratic stakeholders to respect the laws or face the consequences. The offences include: to make or publish, by written or spoken word or by song, a false statement about the personal character of another candidate or the conduct of a political party; and to excite enmity against a person, group of persons, or political party on grounds of religious, ethnic, professional, regional, or political affiliation. In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the EC Chairman, explained that a careful examination of the offences indicated that an election official, a polling agent, a party official, a candidate, a voter, or any member of the general public could commit an election offence.
The December elections may prove to be one of the sternest tests faced by Ghana’s electoral commission. Ghana’s Electoral Commission has proven robust in trying circumstances in the past. But the coming elections this December may test its capabilities like never before. A re-drawing of constituency boundaries has provoked cries of foul play and, although lauded in the past for impartiality, the electoral commission faces difficult challenges.
The deadline for the return of writs in PNG’s elections has been extended, with counting still progressing. Last week PNG’s Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen set the deadline of today Wednesday for all the writs to be returned. But he says that’s now unlikely, with two Highlands provinces starting voting late, and several parts of the country still tallying results. “I will now assess the counting in those provinces that are still ongoing, like the Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Jiwaka, Western Highlands, parts of Southern Highlands, and the Milne Bay province, the Western and Gulf provinces,” he said. “Then I will advise the governor general with the appropriate time frame.”
Somaliland: Electoral Commission Gears up For Local elections But still Fails to set Date for Polls | SomalilandPress.com
The Somaliland Electoral Commission spokesperson Mr. Mohamed Ahmed hirsi (geelle) speaking at a press conferences speaking at the brand new commission headquarters has confirmed that the government of Somaliland has deposited the 25% of the funds required for the upcoming local government Election which are due to be held soon. The NEC spokesperson revealed to the press the government of Somaliland had deposited the 25% of the funds required for the upcoming local elections and that we are currently awaiting for the funds which were promised to us by international donors for the process.
United Kingdom: First Minister says Electoral Commission will be given ‘central role’ in Scottish referendum process | The Courier
The First Minister pledged the involvement of the Electoral Commission in ensuring a fair and clear question would be ”identical” to that in Westminster referendums. But he repeated his refusal to opposition party requests for a cross-party group of independent experts be set up to formulate the question. ”By accepting the central role of the Electoral Commission, we have accepted the requests previously put forward by the opposition parties,” he said. ”However, the referendum will still meet the requirement of being made in Scotland, with the Government responding to the Scottish consultation, the Electoral Commission advising and recommending potential changes and parliament deciding as part of the legislative process.” Ministers want to respond to the consultation on the staging of the referendum, then propose the question or questions, which keeps the door open to a multi-option ballot. The commission will then send advice and test the intelligibility of the question, including any recommendation for changes, which MSPs will be able to debate.
United Kingdom: Electoral Commission to test wording for proposed independence referendum question | STV
The Electoral Commission will be given the role of testing the wording of the proposed question for the referendum on independence, the Scottish Government has said. The commitment was made in a letter from First Minister Alex Salmond to opposition party leaders. Mr Salmond said: “It follows a process which is identical to that in current Westminster legislation and confirms that Scotland’s referendum will meet the highest international standards. “By accepting the central role of the Electoral Commission, we have accepted the requests previously put forward by the opposition parties.
In making the optimistic case for the development of democracy here, American officials typically point to the 2010 parliamentary elections, which were judged largely free and fair by international monitors including the United Nations. But with the arrest of the head of Iraq’s election commission, the prospect for fair elections has been thrown into question. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, center, in March. He has been seeking to consolidate control over the electoral commission. Faraj al-Haidari, chief of the Independent High Electoral Commission, spent most of the weekend in a jail cell after being arrested on corruption charges on Thursday. He was released on Sunday afternoon after posting bail of $12,500.
A judge from Iraq’s anti-corruption watchdog has ordered the head of the nation’s electoral commission and another member of the panel to be jailed until Sunday, a fellow commission member said. Faraj Al Haidari, the head of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and member Karim Al Tamimi are jailed “until Sunday due to a decision taken by a judge from the integrity commission,” a member of IHEC said on Friday on condition of anonymity. The judge could also order an extension of their custody. Asked about the matter, Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki’s spokesman Ali Mussawi said only that “it is a judicial issue related to the integrity commission and the judiciary.”
The concerns emerge in the minutes of private meetings held by the commission, which have been released to Channel 4 News under the Freedom of Information Act. They show the watchdog does not believe the Scottish government is proposing to give it the power to have proper oversight of the referendum. The documents also reveal the electoral commission “does not favour” holding the poll on a Saturday and that it believes it would “not be acceptable” for the Scottish government to test the fairness of the referendum question itself.
Politicians may become involved in the work of in a commission looking at States reform in Jersey. Privileges and procedures (PPC), which sets rules for politicians, backed overturning a bar on them taking part. The PPC, which set up the Electoral Commission, challenged the States’ backing of ex-deputy Daniel Wimberley’s argument it should be independent.
On Wednesday, the PPC also backed equalising the number of politicians and non-politicians sitting on it. The non-politicians would almost certainly be local, but the positions would be open to people who do not live in Jersey but have a connection with the island.
The heavily criticised director of ‘An African Election’ – a movie on the 2008 elections of Ghana – Jarreth Merz, has revealed that his political neutrality and background did the trick to give him access to the Strong Room of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.
The director of the award-winning movie said he sought permission from the Electoral Commission and mainly the political parties’ representatives in the Strong Room after a gentleman’s agreement was reached that he will not make the video clips public until the elections were over. He stated that one of the major reasons why he was allowed to film all the actions in the Strong Room uncensored was due to the fact that he was seen to be a “neutral” person.
Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) Professor Errol Miller says Jamaica can be proud of its electoral system, which has improved significantly since Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944 and continues to advance through the leadership of the ECJ.
“The reform of the country’s electoral process is one of the great accomplishments of the Jamaican people since Independence,” he told JIS News. “We have reached a stage where our electoral process is recognised around the world, and measures we have developed here are being adopted elsewhere. We are called upon to assist many countries in the Caribbean and outside, and our people serve on various committees and are part of various bodies,” he said.
According to Professor Miller, Jamaica adopted from its colonial masters a “flawed electoral process” and from 1944 until 1979 the electoral process was managed ‘colonial style, on a winner take all’ system. “The party in Government sets the laws, conducts the elections, and Parliament itself sets the boundaries of constituencies all to their advantage,” he said.
The Overlord of Gonjaland, Yagbonwura Tuntumba Sulemana Jakpa Bore Essa I, has called on all political parties to refrain from setting the agenda for the Electoral Commission (EC). “I call on all political parties to dialogue with the Electoral Commission to ensure free and fair polls”, Yagbonwura said.
He said the “EC has the constitutional mandate to conduct elections in Ghana” adding therefore no interest groups should try to teach it how to do its job. “I urge all well meaning citizens of this country to resist any person or group of persons who would want to create chaos and make the country ungovernable”, he said.