Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is like the foundation of our electoral system, so it is very vital to have honest thinkers there to build a strong foundation, a system that is free of lies or misleading information; initiate intelligent modern options, not forward excuses; deliver measured warnings to avoid embarrassment, mistrust, and costly punishment. It is a public institution that should encourage transparent public relationship; meaning it should welcome suggestions beyond political parties and give periodic statements that will highlight the summaries of recommendations it received, which ones are under consideration and those rejected should come with explanations. Political parties/leaders should always make their recommendations public or IEC be given the mandate to reveal their recommendations. Private citizens can recommend privately or publicly, and still be protected on public identifying. Leaders who do not recommend privately or publicly have no right to publicly complain.
When the IEC claims Gambians in the Diaspora will be voting in 2021 they are literally lying or sending a misleading information, so how should the media respond to such? Constantly call it fractional Diaspora voting, 10% Diaspora voting, discriminatory Diaspora voting, or whatever is most closer to the reality. This will be recorded in history and force present and future IEC leaders to be better. Institutions that bow to pressure will accommodate to the most vocal to tame the debate and forward excuses that are often insulting to thinkers. Few places in the u.s and UK is not accommodating to the very excuse questionable Gambian activists manipulated the IEC on. They claim u.s and u.k have the most Gambians, but that is a very weird excuse except to drunkards and anti marijuana minds. Voting is about being Gambian, not a vague where have the most Gambians? Long ago, I called for online registration and voting for all Gambians in the Diaspora, or we should not waste our money to have any Diaspora voting. Even if it means no secret ballot for Diasporans, let it be universal opportunity. I guarantee you not even fifty percent Gambians in the u.s or UK will vote, because why should I pay hundred or more dollars to travel to register, then same amount to vote? They are not thinkers, except in forwarding excuses and questionable opportunities. The essence of secret ballot is no longer as it was, so the law should allow transparent voting as option, alongside secret balloting. I even submitted it to the CRC, but they are probably waiting for more western countries to have such before we copy? The hundreds of thousands of Gambians who voice their favorite political party online are not afraid to vote transparent on a website or even through a WhatsApp video to a special IEC number. Liars are crafty with fractional facts, they claim millions come from the Gambians in Germany, Sweden, and xyz; but what percentage of that goes to the government to warrant spending what percentage of that to appease the most vocal Gambians in uk and u.s ? I strongly suggest the Gambians in Sweden, Germany, Canada, etc to consider suing the IEC for blatant discrimination after claiming the money you sent make you more valuable Gambians than Gambians in the Gambia? If a polling station in the Gambia cost us one thousand dollars, every polling station in the u.s or u.k will cost at least ten thousand dollars including travel cost of officials. Some Gambian activists are arrogant and robbing us, but some IEC officials will appreciate the corruption of selection, gamble visa nightmare, and get a lying opportunity for asylum in places better than Gambians in Nigeria or Bissau?
Beside online voting, our registration system is too old with unnecessary strings. At versus for: How hard it is to say Jarga kebba Gigo is registered AT Jeshwang FOR Jokadu constituency? Then have a transfer form between centers, weekly or monthly. For a population of two million people, voting age of about one million people, the national transfer list will be how much and how much less per district or constituency? So this is lot more feasible for the Gambia than the u.s , but how inefficient to deny simple choice? There are different ways to discourage voters from voting through laws and regulations, both intentionally and unintentionally. By demanding people register at where they will vote, Jarga may not be willing to shoulder the travel cost and ferry nightmare to register at Jokadu, but may say voting day is public holiday in the Gambia before many western countries, so let me travel to vote on one sacrifice for that special jokadu mp battle? How about allow switch after the presidential, for mps, councillors, etc due to moving or xyz?
Another scenario, Jarga registers in june at and for jeshwang, but get posted in Basse by November election; a great IEC should demand our one, year round, center or office can change your voting constituency for D100 to discourage unnecessary switch and cover transfer notification cost. The stupid ones will say election should be free to all citizens, but the intelligent ones will say if only one thousand Gambians paid D100 each to avoid paying D200 fare and travel struggle — that is an efficient system, a transparent list for contestants, and will certainly raise voter turnout by how much?
Again, if Jarga is on holidays from Sweden, there should be one year round office where I can register as voter, preferably headoffice. The date of registration, special list, etc can make it very easy for IEC to register me and forward even a video file to all contestants or a website where they can verify xyz? We should be looking for ways to make it reasonably easy for citizens to register and vote, not make it hard with cowardly and arrogant excuses as Republicans in the u.s are trying to do? Again, unless we differentiate at and for, how can such registration occur?
Punishment and sensitizing people on penalties of election fraud is lacking from the IEC. This marijuana guy registered with my ID card, but no one highlighted a warning that double registration is punishable by xyz fine or prison time; that non-citizens who fraudulently try to obtain voter registration will be punished more than the possession of 20 kilos of cannabis and possibly deported, etc. Beside the forms highlighting, ads and about five percent of all IEC press conferences should be about punishment or election fraud sensitization.
Any Alkalo (village head) who attest for one or two non-Gambians will be tried as possible negligent , fined up to xyz; beyond two as probable fraud with much higher penalties. An Alkalo has about five thousand people, in a village, on average, so it should not be hard to know before attesting. A mayor can attest at his or her own risk, but there should be announced penalties for all forms of false attestations. We can create at least two co-attesters for mayors , because they cannot know everyone in a city, but still have penalties for the questionable applicant, co-attestors, and where a pattern reveals mayor collaboration for fraud.
More important is IEC should embrace a culture of cameras,especially when mass registering. Diaspora folks or xyz should pay for enough official cameras or rent them , but archive them for investigation and historical records. The cameras will also deter possible fraud by hundreds, help prosecute few, and safe us from instability? Or do they prefer phone recordings of young looking voters on social media, and what on adult looking foreigners who never heard how mild or strongly we punish against election fraud versus marijuana possession? I support cameras on registration and the verification desk on voting day.
I have other suggestions, but time and space won’t allow