The Electoral Commission of Zambia has announced that voter registration will commence in May 2020.
The right of all adult citizens to participate in the affairs of their government is one of the cornerstones of democracy. Perhaps the most fundamental form of participation is voting in free, fair, and transparent elections. For citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote, there’s need to establish a comprehensive and inclusive voters’ register. The register should be carefully maintained to ensure that each eligible citizen is registered to vote once and only once in an election. A voters’ list makes it possible to separate two of the most important functions of the Electoral Commission of Zambia namely verifying voter eligibility and controlling the legitimacy of the voting process. And the register should be provided to political parties and candidates to aid them in their campaigns. The voters’ register helps confer legitimacy on the electoral process. Conversely, the legitimacy of the process will immediately be called into question if there are problems with the registration of voters, and particularly with the integrity of the voters’ register. Voter registration, therefore, is one of the most important tasks of election administration Voter registration is both the most central and most expensive aspect of the electoral process.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia needs to maintain contact with stakeholders in the voter registration process, particularly political parties. The stakeholders may play a crucial role by endorsing the voter registration process. In doing so they confer legitimacy on the election itself. Voter registration establishes the eligibility of individuals to vote. It is one of the more-costly, time-consuming, and complex aspects of the electoral process and it often accounts for a considerable portion of the budget, staff time and resources of the Electoral Commission of Zambia. If conducted well, voter registration confers legitimacy to the process. The entire electoral process may be perceived as illegitimate should the registration system be flawed. Voter registration is both the most central and most expensive aspect of the electoral process. The task of registering voters and producing voters’ lists often accounts for more than 50 per cent of the overall cost of administering elections. There’s need for the Electoral Commission of Zambia to work with the various stakeholders to create an overall political climate that is conducive to voter registration. The political environment will obviously have an impact on voter registration and elections. We need a completely peaceful political environment, with all parties accepting the legitimacy of this part of the electoral process. Voter registration should as far as possible be conducted in a harmonious political climate. When it isn’t, questions of fairness or legitimacy are almost certain to arise. The Electoral Commission of Zambia must do the utmost to ensure that election administration is, and is perceived by stakeholders to be fair and impartial. It is also very important for the Electoral Commission of Zambia to ensure maximum transparency by providing all political parties with opportunities to observe the administration of voter registration process and have a say.