Risks of losing voters’ votes in the 2022 elections

Asim Çia

The Lebanese are anxiously awaiting the next May 15th legislative elections, especially as they do not resemble their predecessors, neither in form nor in content, except for the electoral law, which was divided into sectarian ruling classes, used the proportional system with small, unequal and hybrid areas, which prevents the arrival of independent candidates who are not affiliated with the parties, with an electoral threshold equal to the electoral coefficient, used in laws aimed at limiting parliamentary seats. in the hands of the main parties. Law 44/2017 also includes some techniques that assist these leaders in developing hybrid alliance strategies that ensure they monopolize electoral results and deceive opponents and voters alike.

These elections come after the unprecedented cruel situations that the Lebanese experienced after October 17, 2019, the most prominent of which were the theft of their deposits through the Governor of Banque du Liban, the disaster of the bombing of the Port of Beirut and the destruction of Beirut on 4 August 2020 and the subsequent failure in the management of the state and its institutions and the crises Most of it is fabricated, from the interruption of medicines, flour and fuel and the humiliation of the Lebanese in order. to secure their livelihood.

The elections expected by the international community, as well as by the Lebanese, to determine the representatives of the people and to restore legitimacy, their holding depends on the provision of international assistance to prevent the bankruptcy of the state. The next parliament also expects to define Lebanon’s future and its neutrality or survival as a negotiating card in the game of regional and international axes. He also expects responsibility for appointing a prime minister who will win Lebanese trust and lay out a plan for Lebanon’s recovery from collapse, and the right to elect a republic president a few months after the next parliament takes over. . legislative authority.

Contrary to what the ruling authority and some of its spokespersons promote, that the forthcoming elections are similar to their predecessors and will bring no change, in an attempt to play with the morale of the voters, especially those who have resigned parties will either not vote for them, or did not vote, for their desperation for the possibility of change, given that the combined political class, which has ruled since 2005, has received only 39% of the vote. votes of 3,746,483 voters. in the 2018 elections, of which 1,861,203 voters participated, or 49.6% of the voters, of whom 10.6% of the votes were either the Void 38909 letter or the 15029 white paper or came in the interest of the new elites. In other words, the remaining 10.6% of the 49.6% is distributed as follows: More than 2% are invalid ballots due to the poor design of the ballot paper and its ambiguity for the voter, and ways to fix it will to be mentioned later, and more than 0.8% are blank ballots due to the voters’ dissatisfaction with the candidates and their ignorance of the consequences of calculating the electoral coefficient that included the white papers, which caused the election results to increase and prevented small lists from gaining seats and allowed the lists of the main parties and their alliances to monopolize parliamentary seats at the expense of fair representation, meaning that votes represented by only one seat were 7.7% while 39% won 127 seats .

This promotion that the 2022 elections will bring nothing new in results and maintain control of the ruling parties, but aims to reduce as much as possible the turnout of opponents of this power, in a way to help these. parties return to monopolizing seats in Parliament with minority votes. The imaginary ceiling of election spending was raised to hundreds of billions of Lebanese pounds per list, as part of amendments passed by Parliament in November last year, in order to buy voters’ votes after impoverishing them in all the fabricated crises we mentioned. . , under the names of election campaign expenses and voter transport expenses, which Law 44/2017 mentions in its Article 61, and legal heresy in Article 62, second paragraph, which allowed the governing authority to purchase the votes of voters by providing cash and in-kind assistance and prevented opponents of this authority from doing so in its first paragraph.

All this and more evidence of the confusion and fear of the political authority from the results of the 2022 elections, using all the legal and illegal methods, and the cunning methods he used in the 2018 elections, the most prominent of which was the lack of of box locks. whereas the basic international standards are to guarantee the transparency and integrity of the electoral process and to protect the votes of the voters from their manipulation, especially if the results of these funds are not in the interest of the ruling class, which is in charge of managing the elections. It is internationally accepted to close the ballot box with four locks on all four sides and to close the fifth place for placing the votes, after the counting process is completed, after the minutes, the ballot papers and all the papers are placed and important materials. , and candidate delegates receiving the numbers of these locks and subsequent verification of these blocks if a candidate or delegate asks the registration commissions to recount the votes. Therefore, if the polling stations do not close with five locks, the election results will be confused. Domestic and international observers, as well as candidates, should ensure that the Ministry of Interior provides adequate locks in Lebanon and abroad to ensure that ballot boxes are protected from interference and election integrity.

In addition to the risk of losing voters’ votes by manipulating the ballot boxes due to lack of locks, there is a fundamental mistake in the design of the ballot paper. After the adoption of law 44/2019, one of the most important reforms that may be the only in this law, which is the ballot paper printed in advance by the Ministry of Interior, which includes all the lists running for election, the design of this ballot is not clear regarding the preferential voting process for a candidate from among the candidates. of the smallest unit (constituency where the voter belongs) in complex districts, ie composed of several districts. This hybrid and unequal division of constituencies is not based on any scientific or technical criteria, only ensuring that the governing system wins the most the largest possible countries. This document came with a design that led to the loss of 38,909 votes, invalid ballots were counted due to their lack of clarity, while 34,147 votes for the Kataeb Party won three seats and 31,206 votes allowed the Marada Movement to also take three seats. . mandates, close to the number of votes that were counted as invalid due to the design of the ballot paper Lack of voter education.

Attached to the first photo is an example of the letters approved in the 2018 elections and a clearer and easier design for voters in the second photo:

Although the first ballot paper did not separate the small constituency candidates from each other and did not differentiate between the smaller constituency candidates, other than closing the preferential ballot boxes through the use of black. We show you the second design that separates through the yellow box to the right of the ballot paper between the smaller constituencies and separates the candidates of each small constituency from each other, in addition to removing the photos of the candidates of the smallest constituency for which voters are not allowed to vote preferentially, especially as the culture of the majority of Lebanese voters is based on the principle of Personality and voting for leaders at the expense of voting for electoral programs. This facilitates voter education and reduces as many invalid votes as possible as a result of the ignorance of some voters, especially those who were not targeted by the electoral machinery in the process of attracting voters and directing them in the process of distributing votes. among their candidates. Also, the thickness of the ballot paper was not sufficient for the secrecy of the ballot, accompanied by an excuse from the former Ministry of Interior that the circumstances in which the ballot paper should be placed provide protection for secrecy. But the use of the envelope leads to the possibility of using the “rolling” paper and falsifying the elections by buying votes, so that the voter keeps the ballot paper and puts the empty envelope in the ballot box, provided he submits. this ballot in his electoral machine, which in turn begins the process of buying votes by inserting the ballot paper signed in favor of one of the candidates of this electoral machine with the first voter, provided that he leaves the polling station with the blank sheet and gets the agreed amount, and so on, the process of falsifying the will of the voters by buying votes. Therefore, we recommend canceling the use of the envelope and adopting a thicker ballot paper that guarantees the secrecy of the voter vote, so as not to allow those inside the polling station to know the voter choice.

These two factors – closing ballot boxes and designing ballot papers – pose the greatest risk of losing voters’ votes, in addition to the presence of circumstances in the voting process and the ceiling of election spending that increases clientelism through vote buying.

Therefore, the election oversight body should consider these recommendations and ask the Ministry of Interior to take what is needed to ensure sufficient blockades, clearer and thicker ballots for the voter, eliminating the use of the envelope sealed in the voting process. hoping for the participation of as many voters as possible and the holding of these elections, which will lead to the voting of voters and their representation by those they elect for the term of the next parliament, to correct the consequences of the collapse and state bankruptcy.

This is my vote and my vote is my constitutional right to achieve proper representation in elections.

Researcher in electoral systems and laws

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