General elections are the cornerstone of our constitutional democracy and government. They have to come on every 4 years come hell or high water.
That COVID-19 is here and may be here for a while is not an occasion to jettison this cornerstone and imagine alternative forms of government that will de facto end the 4th Republic.
Rather, it is an occasion to re-imagine and retrofit our general elections infrastructure to address the undoubtedly daunting challenges presented by the COVID-19.
For instance, the EC should be arranging for and securing larger polling stations that will allow for effective social distancing measures.
It should be making plans to procure and provide these polling stations with adequate sanitizers. It should be looking into providing its staff masks and perhaps extending this to voters who might need them.
It should be planning to, if necessary, hold the elections over a longer period of time, perhaps in two days rather than one.
The COVID-19 presents an opportunity to also re-examine some of the old practices. For instance, why should the elections be held on December 7, the very last day of the 120-days window allowed by the Constitution?
Why leave ourselves a mere 1-week window of transition where there is a runoff or a mere 30-days window of transition even if there is a winner on the first ballot?
There are also opportunities to deploy technology. Is it really necessary for all voters to physically go to some physical locations merely to verify if they are on the voters’ register? Why can’t they do it electronically?
And why can’t registration be continuous? Why must the EC fall asleep for 3+ years and wake up one day in the 4th year to issue an order to 15M to put themselves on a register within 2 weeks or risk losing their right to vote?
If I am already registered, why does the EC make my registering again its headache, thereby imposing a needless charge on the ever shrinking consolidated funds?
Why can’t government and the political parties figure out some way of giving all political candidates cheap access to a dedicated spectrum where they can reach voters to dispense their usual big promises?
This is not the time to think about what extralegal government to emplace if we violate the clear constitutional mandate to hold quadrennial elections. It is the time to reengineer our election system to face squarely the exigencies of the times.
128/1820 is a bona fide scam and sham.