from Africa in Transition

Return to an Open Ballot?

January 28, 2011

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

Politics and Government

Nigeria

Elections and Voting

People wait in line at a registration centre in Abuja January 15, 2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

As Nigerians go to the elections in April 2011 for the fourth time following failed elections in 1999, 2003, and 2007, we should remember that Nigeria has had credible elections before—most recently in 1993.

For those elections, the government dispensed with voter registration and a secret ballot. Instead, Nigerians lined up behind the symbol of their preferred candidate to be counted in public.

However, until recently, there has been little discussion of this methodology in contemporary Nigeria. Open balloting  makes ballot counting verifiably accurate. An ostensibly "secret ballot" is seen as  more inherently democratic, and more "modern." Yet, if the 2011 elections are plagued with many of the same registration difficulties as in 2007, it might be worth reconsidering.

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Politics and Government

Nigeria

Elections and Voting

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