Votes cast v/s valid votes


20-October-2011

The issue at stake is what exactly does the Constitution say regarding the election of members to represent political parties in the National Assembly alongside those directly elected by the voters.

I believe I am qualified to comment on this matter since I was a member of the Constitutional Commission which drafted the Constitution as well as a proportionately elected member of the National Assembly which deliberated on the amendment to the original Constitution which is now in contention.

From the perspective of the English language votes cast must mean the ballot paper which a voter has inserted in a ballot box at the time of the election. 

A valid vote is a ballot paper which has been cast at the said election and which has been accepted as being properly marked in favour of a candidate.  The candidate with the largest number of votes cast in his or her favour is then declared elected.
 
The Constitution also makes provision for political parties to nominate not more than 10 members to the National Assembly. A political party is qualified for this consideration if it had endorsed candidates in that election.  The total votes obtained by these candidates are then aggregated.  A party is eligible to appoint a candidate for each 10% of the votes it had aggregated as compared to the total votes cast, in other words, the total number of ballot papers found in the ballot box when the voting station had shut its doors.

As regards the merit of that arrangement or its fairness to political parties, that is matter for debate in the nation as a whole, not an issue which should interest the Constitutional Court.  The judges cannot rewrite the Constitution. They are there only to interpret it.

Paul Chow

 

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