The conduct of elections in democratic states follow similar patterns. Generally the steps to be followed are:
1. The first step generally taken is to appoint a body to be charged with the responsibility of conducting the election. In Nigeria, the body is referred to as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
2. The next step is division of the country into constituencies. A constituency is a district or geographical area in which the people who live there are legally authorized to elect either a representative or representatives in the legislature. There are two types:
a. Single-member constituency: Here only one single person could be elected into the legislature.
b. Multi-member constituency: More than one person could be elected into the legislature.
3. The third is compilation of the electoral register in order to prevent people who would want to vote more than once.
4. Nomination of candidates: Nomination of candidates for the election is normally done on political party platforms.
5. Campaigns: This is a period of political education of the electorate. The different political parties explain their programmes to the electorate. In Nigeria, the period of campaign is normally 21 days.
6. Voting: A day is normally set aside for voting.
7. Counting: After voting, the votes are counted.
8. Announcement: The result of the votes counted are announced through the available mass media.
Process Of Conducting Free And Fair Election
The following process should be followed in order to ensure a free and fair election:
1. Establishment of an independent Body made up of honest men to be charged with the responsibility of conducting the election. i.e. INEC.
2. Periodic revision of the electoral Register so as to remove names of dead people and include the names of those who have attained the required age of voting.
3. Public display of the electoral register to enable the members of the public to scrutinize it.
4. Security of electoral materials such as ballot boxes and papers.
5. Protection of voters at the polling station from intimidation.
6. Secret voting should be carried out and it should be universal adult suffrage.
7. Counting of votes should be done immediately after voting with the representatives of the contestants in attendance.
8. Announcement of results should be immediate through the available mass media.
9. There should be a means whereby aggrieved candidates could seek redress, e.g. constituting election tribunal and allowing appeals to the superior court.