ELECTION, TYPES OF ELECTION AND VOTERS’ RESPONSIBILITY

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OBJECTIVES

At the end of this write up, you should be able to understand and discuss the
following:
a)Concept of Elections
b)Various Types of Elections
c)Basic Qualifications for Elections
d)Responsibility of a Voter
e)Procedure for Voting

Importance of Elections

CONCEPT OF ELECTION
Election is the process of electing candidates on periodic basis to represent the interest of people in the government in a given country. In Nigeria, for instance, councilors and the local government chairmen, honorable members in the House of Assembly and the Governors are elected to steer the affairs in the states, while members in the National Assembly, and Senates and President are elected to rule the nation at the federal levels.

VOTER

A voter is a qualified adult who has the right to cast his or her votes directly in a political election for candidate(s) of his or her choice that will represent them either in the executive or legislature. Voters are collectively known as the electorates. They can be males or females. Before any citizen can be a voter in Nigeria, he must attain 18 years and above. The person must be mentally balanced.

VOTING

Voting is a democratic act whereby the electorate (voters) cast their votes directly in an election to elect candidates of their choice in government.

There are two forms of voting methods:

Secret balloting, where voters cast their votes secretly Public voting, whereby voting is done openly
Any of the two voting methods can be used in electing political leaders in a country.

TYPES OF ELECTIONS
The commonly operated types of elections are:

1. Direct elections
2. Indirect elections
3. By-elections
4. Runoff elections
5. Primary elections
6. Referendums

1.Direct elections
Direct elections involve voters casting votes directly for candidates of their choice
without any interference. Direct elections can be open voting, whereby a voter
votes openly either by being on a queue behind his or her choice candidate, or by
raising up his hand in support of such a candidate. It can also be secret voting
whereby a voter cast his or her votes for his choice candidate through ballot paper
as it is presently practiced in elections in Nigeria.

2. Indirect elections
An indirect election is a system whereby the legislators form the body known as
‘electoral college’ and vote for the candidates of their choice (on behalf of all
citizens) as a result of the failure of the general election to produce elected
candidates.

3. By-elections
This is an election that takes place to fill a vacant elective post as a result of
disqualification, resignation or death of the officer holding that post or office. Only
registered voters in the constituency are allowed to vote.

4. Run-off elections
This is also known as second ballot. When none of the candidates wins the election
in a general election, another election would be conducted. In the final election,
winners would emerge.

5. Primary elections
This involves the political parties presenting candidates for any election in a
country. It is an election conducted within a political party to choose credible
candidates that can competently represent the interests of the party in coming election

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Referendums
This is yes’ or ‘no vote of people particularly on law in a given political system. this is to determine the decision of people about any government policy that affects
the people.

BASIC QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELECTION

For any citizen to quality as an eligible voter; the person must met the following
conditions:

  1. Age : Ages of citizens in the country quality them to vote and be voted for in an election. in
    Nigeria, for instance, the age of qualified voter starts from 18 years and above
    Citizens below 18 years are not allowed to vote.
  2. Citizenship : Members of a country can only quality to exercise their electoral franchise if they
    are bonafide citizens of that country. Citizenship can be acquired through births,
    registration, naturalization and marriages.
  3. Registration : Before election, citizens who are 18 years and above register their names and other
    data as part of their political rights. It is only those who pass through these
    registration procedures that are qualified to vote.
  4. Physical Fitness : Electoral processes require sound health. For citizens to quality for elections, the person must have the strength to move up and down to fulfill electoral processes
    and also face the stress that involves in it.
  5. Physical Appearance : Citizens must be present physically at any electoral process to qualify for
    elections. Electoral processes do not allow absenteeism or voting by proxy. Rather
    you must be present and fulfill your electoral role before you are qualified for
    elections.

Basic qualification for election are age, citizenship, registration, physical fitness, physical appearance and sound mind.

6.  Sound Mind : citizens with sound minds are only qualified to partake in electoral processes in
the country. An insane person, who behaves abnormally, cannot decide on his or
heron and is not qualified to take part in electoral processes: Only citizens, who
how what to do at the right time are qualified to do this.

RESPONSIBILITY OF A VOTER
Below are the responsibilities of a voter:

  • Undergoing Electoral Process : undergoing political process in any given country will include getting the voter card of such country, and making sure he appears as one of the voters on the day of the election. by this a good citizen is joining hand for the development of his or her country.
  • Attending Political Programmes : Another responsibility of a voter is to attend political programmes before any election, There are some programmes which the electoral body
    independent body in the country organize purposely in order to enlighten the
    voters on the electoral processes, and how to cast their votes wisely, Voters should
    attend these programmes, so that they can be exposed to the electoral processes
  • Fighting for their Political Rights : It is the part of voter’s responsibilities to fight for their political rights in the country: Whenever their political rights are tampered with, they should be able in fight for it in the courts of law. This is part of the reasons why electoral tribunal sane
    established
  • Voting for the Right Candidate : This is another responsibility of a voter. A voter should be enlightened enough and well-educated to be able to decide whom to vote for that will represent his or her interest.
  • Opposing Electoral Malpractices : The electorates must ensure that there are no malpractices in the election. Thus, it is their responsibility t o be vigilant before and after casting their votes, as they must be watchful in order to detect any electoral malpractices. If there is any, they
    should be able to cry out and disallow the perpetrators, or report such
    malpractices. Today, citizen journalism is used to prevent electoral malpractice.
  • Monitoring Electoral Processes : one of the responsibilities of voters is monitoring of the electoral processes. responsible voter must feel that he or she has performed his or her own electoral processes and thereafter go and sit back at home. A voter must be able to monitor
    each electoral process right from the registration stage to the announcement of
    election results, so as to make sure that the processes are free and fair
  • Maintaining Good Behavior : Decent behavior during electoral processes is a responsibility of a voter. A voter must conduct himself or herself decently at the polling boots or any political arena.
    The person must not engage in fighting. The voter must be well-behaved and act
    according to the rules of the election.
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PROCEDURES FOR VOTING

Voting, as part of the political exercises, has certain procedures, which a voter must pass through. Below are the procedures;

a) Accreditation
b) Handing Over of Ballot Papers
C) Voting proper
d) Thumb marking

a) Accreditation
On the election day, eligible voters, as well as the electoral officers, converge at various polling boots across the nation. Security officers are also present there in order to ensure the smooth running of the election. The electorates present their cards so that the electoral officers can ensure that their names are on the list. Once the names are confirmed on the list, they are qualified to vote.
b)Handing Over of Ballot Papers : After accreditation, the electoral officers start calling the accredited names again and release ballot papers to each voter as the person answers to his or her name.
They cross-check the person’s name, sex, age and photographs and alter they are satisfied on the genuineness of the voter, he or she is allowed to exercise his or her voting right.
C) Voting Proper : As the voter is given the ballot paper; he or she moves straight to a secret place,
Where the voter will not be influenced and thumbprint (with the ink provided) on the
ballot paper for the candidate of his or her choice, He or she folds the ballot paper
and drops it in a ballot box.

D) Thumb Marking : Immediately the voter finishes casting his vote for the candidate of his or her
choice, the thumb nail is marked with a durable ink or paint in order to avoid double
voting. With this, the voter has completed his voting exercise. He may then wait for
the results of the election before he leaves.

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IMPORTANCE OF ELECTIONS

Some of the importance of elections are as follows:

  1. Change of Government
    Election is a good avenue through which government changes from one
    representative to the other. Citizens, in a democratic government, have the
    political rights to elect their representatives into the electoral posts through
    various elections. In Nigeria, elections are conducted every four years to change
    from one set of elected representatives to another.
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  2. Legitimacy : Elections make a government to be legitimate. Any government which comes into
    power through election enjoys the popular support of the people. All decisions
    taken by this government are abided to by the citizens because the government is
    seen as the peoples’ government.
  3. Freedom to Elect Leaders : Through elections, citizens enjoy the freedom to elect their leaders. If any government rules its people arbitrarily, these people will wait till the next election,
    when they will have another voting power to vote such government out of power.
  4. Healthy Rivalry : Election creates healthy rivalry among political parties in the country. Periodic elections make the opposition parties to remain calm throughout the tenure of the ruling party. Instead of instigating unnecessary tension in the society, the opposition parties should criticize  constructively so as to arouse the interest of the citizens to their sides.
  5. Participation in Decision Making : Elections give the citizens the privilege to participate in the decision making of their country. Interested citizens contest for various electoral posts in the country and their fates are known on the election day through the results. By this, Some representatives are elected to take part in the decision making in their country.
  6. Measuring Public Opinions : Elections also serve as means of measuring public opinions. It is through elections that a candidate or political party knows their stand in the eyes of the citizens of the country. Any serving government cannot judge its performance until after the elections.
  7. Checkmating the Politicians : A good avenue to checkmate the excesses of the politicians is through election. It is a statement of fact that no ruling politician or political party wishes to lose power. Meanwhile, the only way to remove them from political offices is through elections. Once this is kept in their minds, they will always perform their responsibilities effectively, in order to be given another chance of ruling by getting the people’s vote in the next election.

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