NCHR Issues the final recommendations of the Jordanian alliance for reforming the legal framework of the electoral process

On Monday morning, 07/02/2011, the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) held a meeting gathering representatives of the Jordanian Alliance for Electoral Reform (JAER). The alliance is composed of representatives of CSO’s from all over the Kingdom’s governorates including representatives of political parties, trade unions and various NGO’s. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the recommendations reached in 2009 and any other proposed amendments to the election law no. 9 of 2001 based on the recommendations of the NCHR national observatory team which has monitored 2010 electoral process.

After extensive discussions, participants in the meeting have reached a number of recommendations as set out below. They have also stressed the need to follow-up on their recommendations with the parliament’s legal committee and to undertake a number of activities to gain support for these recommendations to render the election law more compatible with constitutional and international standards for free and fair elections.

The recommendations were as follows:

First: the electoral system and the distribution of electoral districts

In order to ensure the principle of representation and equality among all citizens, the election law should be amended with regard to the distribution of districts. In this regard JAER proposes the following amendments:

A. Modify the one man-one-vote system and replace it with a mixed electoral one (one vote to the candidates of the smaller electoral district and the second for the province).

B. Revoke the invented districts and reconsider the division of electoral districts on more just basis which take into consideration ensuring relative representation equality between these districts in terms of population density, geographical area and the developmental dimension. The division of electoral districts should be stipulated in the law and not in its regulations.

C. Increase the women’s quota, by allocating one seat to women in each district and for the Bedouin’s district as a temporary measure. The seat should go to the female candidate who won the highest number of votes in the district or the Bedouin district. These seats should be treated separately regardless of those won by competition.

D. Regulate the use of money in the electoral process and the development of necessary control measures to ensure equality among the candidates, the protection of voters’ will, and to ensure transparency of information on sources of funding, specifying its ceilings and how it was spent. Controlling electoral campaigns and ensuring that the campaigns stop at least 24 hours before the Election Day holding violators criminally responsible for their violations. Allow candidates equal opportunities to address their constituencies through the media free of charge and guarantee that they have enough time.

Second: The right to vote and to candidacy in elections

In order to ensure proper application of the right to vote and to candidacy in elections, JAER proposes the following amendments to the law:

A. Any person who has completed his 18 years on the first day of the 3rd month prior to the elections day should be allowed to practice his voting right.

B. Respect to Article 75 / 1 / e of the Constitution, which allows every person who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding one year, for a non-political crime and was pardoned to nominate himself for elections. This right should not be restricted if the pardon is a special or a general one.

 

C. Enabling voters outside the Kingdom and administrative and judicial detainees to exercise their right to vote through the development of the necessary arrangements, which ensure the integrity and impartiality of elections.

Third: The administration of the electoral process

To ensure a just and transparent management of the electoral process JAER proposes the following:

A. The need to establish a permanent and independent higher national commission with neutrality and impartiality to oversee all stages of the electoral process. The commission should be headed by a prominent public figure or an independent and neutral personality. The judiciary should play a big role in the administration of the commission and the formation of the commission should be stipulated in the election law.

B. The law should set the proper framework for the monitoring and observing of election by national and independent civil society organizations.

C. The voters’ lists should include the names of all citizens who are eligible to vote. The condition on the registration of voters should be canceled.

D. Yearly and periodic revision of voters’ lists. Information on voters should be correct and updated. The information should be organized in a precise and accurate manner for easy reference by those who are eligible to vote and other stakeholders in a timely manner.

E. Each electoral district should have its voters’ lists and these lists should be organized in a manner which does not allow any voter to register in more than one list.

Fourth: provisions relating to the registration of voters and candidates

In order to ensure proper and transparent procedures of registration, JAER proposes the following amendments to the law:

A. Ensure that voters’ lists are accurate by stipulating articles in the law which guarantee that the electoral management should included all names of voters who are eligible to vote on annual basis and periodically. All voters’ information should be carefully documented and available for all concerned stakeholders.

B. The abolition of the electoral lists which considers the electoral district as one unit and to replace them with sub lists of voters in each voting station inside the district. Voters should not be allowed to vote in any other station than that where their names are listed to prevent the possibility of multiple voting.

With regard to the transfer of votes, JAER proposes the following:

  1. The banning of votes’ transfer with the exception of voters who actually live in the electoral district. This ban should include those transfers that took place during the year before elections holding violators - both the voter and the one who makes the transfer or assist /participate in it -criminally liable at the same level of responsibility.
  2. Transfer of votes should be made based on information and accurate data, and not according to any fake documents.
  3. Transfer should be subject to appeal by voters. Appeals are to be submitted to the Supreme National Commission for Elections. Objections related to transfer of votes’ decisions should be appealed before the Court of First Instance in the electoral district, where the transfer took place within the scope of its competence.

C. Publishing the voters’ lists electronically and by other means and re-publishing them again after the results of the examination of contests to allow voters and candidates to verify their accuracy.

D. Extending the jurisdiction of the courts in appeals related to voters’ lists. The courts should have the power to look into any objection related to voters’ lists. Their jurisdictions shouldn’t be limited to certain cases such as those mentioned in article 5/ g + h of the 2010 election law.

E. To explicitly stipulate in the law the exclusion of appeals related to voters list from formalities in place before the first instance courts related to the appointment of lawyers in order to guarantee the right of appeal which could be hindered by formal procedures.

F. Revoking the condition stipulated in the law which obliges the candidate who which to nominate himself to submit an application to the governor in person.

G. Make the judiciary responsible for appeals related to nominations at least on two degrees to ensure the unification of jurisprudence with their regard.

Fifth: provisions relating to counting and balloting procedures

In order to ensure proper and transparent procedures relating to the electoral process on the election day, JAER proposes the following:

A. Activating the principle of confidentiality of the voting process by providing necessary conditions in the balloting area, developing the voting paper to include the name and picture of the candidate or a symbol which points to the candidate where the voter can put a sign next to the candidate’s symbol in order to assist illiterate voters, including the use of the smart civil status card and electronic voting.
B. Ensure the confidentiality of the people with disabilities’ votes by allowing them to have persons to accompany them to the ballot place and guaranteeing this right in the election’s law.

C. Polling and counting stations should be obliged to count the ballot papers they have before the start of the voting and documenting the number. D. Stipulating a clear mechanism for appeals submitted to the polling and counting committees during the polling and counting process and the final calculations of results. The appeals should be submitted and responded to in writing. Appeals to the decisions taken by the committees should be appealed in courts.
E. Stipulating in law a clear and transparent mechanism for the counting of votes and for announcing of results.
F. Issuance of private (magnetic) voter identity cards to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the voting process.
G. Provide necessary facilities for the participation of persons with disabilities in the voting process.
H. Stipulate a clear and transparent mechanism for the final counting of votes obtained by the candidates and the publishing of results.
I. Counting of votes in ballot boxes should be made in the polling center. Results should be directly announced after finishing the counting process of all boxes in the polling center.

Sixth: general recommendations for the success of the political reform process and for the proper parliament performance:

A. Any candidate to the parliament should hold the first university degree as a precondition ofr nomination to the House of Representatives.

B. Performing constitutional amendments which give the judiciary the task of adjudicating the precision of parliament membership.

C. Jordanians who carry another nationality should not be allowed to nominate themselves as candidates in the elections to the parliament.

Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Tarawneh (South), Mr. Imad al-Nsour (center) and Ms. Kafa Fayad (North) were elected as members with the National Center to attend the meetings with the Legal Committee of the parliament.

The liaison officers elected from the different provinces are:

Aqaba: Mohammed Esseily

Maan: Yasser Krishan

al-Karak: Omar Rawashda

Tafila: Suhaila Amayreh

Madaba: Fawaz al-Shura and Harba Abu Nasir

Salt : Ahmad Abu Hazeem

Jarash: Samira Mahasneh

Zarqa: Muhammad Hisham Borini

Mafraq: Fawzi al-Dughmi

Ajloun: Samira Smadi

Jarash: Samira Mahasneh

Irbid: Hussein Shuqairat

Amman: (The National Center for Human Rights)