A free and fair election refers to one conducted in an atmosphere devoid of harassment, intimidation and other coercive means in order to bend the will of the voters and according to constitutional procedure. In this type of election, all election vices are eliminated; the will of majority of voters prevails. Candidates who did not win election are never imposed on the voters in a free and fair election.
Factors That Will Aid Free And Fair Election
1. The country should be divided into constituents on equal population basis to ensure equal representation.
2. A body to conduct the election known as electoral commission should be made to be independent and non-partisan.
3. The electoral commission should make proper arrangement to compile names of eligible voters.
4. Voters lists should be publicly displayed for objections and complains that may arise from voters.
5. Adequate security arrangement must be made to create conducive atmosphere during polling day devoid of any form of harassment and intimidation of voters.
6. All necessary election materials like ballot boxes, ballot papers, etc; should be adequately supplied at the appropriate time to avoid problem of logistics.
7. People of transparent honesty and proven integrity should be selected as officials of th electoral commission.
8. Officials to conduct elections should be given adequate training.
9. Secret voting should be adopted.
10. Public counting of votes at places that voting took place should also be adopted.
11. Results of the elections should be announced as soon as counting is completed.
12. Certain persons like lunatics, under-aged persons, criminals, bankrupts, etc, should not be allowed to vote.
13. Provision should be made for the challenge of election results in the court of law.
14. Double voting, impersonation and other election vices should be properly checked.
15. There should be adequate remuneration for electoral officers and adhoc staff.
16. The electoral commission should be adequately backed up with laws to enable it command respect and obedience from political parties and candidates which will ensure free and fair elections.
Forms Of Electoral Malpractices
1. Compilation of fictitious names.
2. Illegal compilation of separate voters’ list.
3. Abuse of the revision of voters’ list exercise.
4. Illegal printing of voters’ cards.
5. Illegal possession of ballot boxes.
6. Stuffing of ballot boxes with ballot papers.
7. Falsification of election results.
8. Thumb printing of ballot papers.
9. Voting by under-age children.
10. Deliberate refusal to supply election materials to some areas.
11. Announcing results where no elections were held.
12. Unauthorized announcement of election results.
13. Harassment of candidates, agents and voters.
14. Change of list of electoral officers.
15. Inflation of figures.