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JJ CORNISH: Claims of electoral cheating make me laugh

OPINION

That indelible ink the electoral official applied to my left thumbnail was no good at all!

With a small shot of local anaesthetic and a diamond-tipped angle grinder, I got it off in less than 30 seconds.

Sure, I was bleeding too profusely to chance a second vote. But with enough Elastoplast, I could have been in there. Seriously.

My daughter voted in Sweden on 27 April. When I went to the polling station yesterday, her name was on the voters’ list right below mine. Had she been here, she could have voted a second time.

Apart from the prohibitive price of air fares in the European springs, there are two more good reasons for her not double voting: she not of a criminal mind; and it would not have made a blind bit of difference to the outcome. Not even if she and the 800 other South African registered to vote in Sweden had all voted twice.

Claims of electoral cheating make me laugh.

They are the property of losing politicians prepared to break the law to make their point and contrary characters willing to take similar action to simply say: I’ll show you.

Covering and observing elections all over Africa, Europe and the United States, I have seen election fraud in action.

Double, triple and even quadruple voting is far and away the least effective of these.

Want to cheat well enough to win an election? Stuffing ballot boxes or paying off party agents to turn a blind eye to making a false count. That is far more efficacious.

I have seen elections bent, chaotic and cynically manoeuvred.

All-male affairs in Dubai; stolen at the last hurdle in Zimbabwe; rendered ridiculous by khat-chewing officials in Somaliland.

Whatever problems we might have in South Africa, we have since 1994 held world-class elections.

The system has been altered to cater for the overwhelming majority of honest voters. Like our social security or tax laws.

Making democracy more accessible has of necessity meant doing away with some of the security measures.

Rowing back to more authoritarian times would obviate this. But do we want that?

I’ll wager the Independent Electoral Commission would prefer to make light of cheating claims - particularly double voting.

But because they are obliged to be seen to be taking seriously every conceivable threat to our democracy, they have say: “We will look into it.”

Then they can only hope the media get the point when they say things worked pretty well in the other 22,900-odd polling stations.

Jean-Jacques Cornish is an Africa correspondent at Eyewitness News. Follow him on Twitter: @jjcornish
This article first appeared on RFI English.

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