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ALF commends Lebanon's efforts to initiate new electoral law 9/20/05

The American Lebanese Foundation (ALF) salutes the Seniora Government for honoring the promise of early efforts to initiate a new, fair and equitable electoral law, and congratulates the members of the National Commission on Electoral Law who have been entrusted with the mission to prepare such a law.

ALF wishes to attract the attention of the Commission to the mounting requests from the expatriate community to create a mechanism for eligible Lebanese voters to cast their ballots without traveling to their home precinct. If expatriate voting abroad could be achieved by the Iraqis in their first ever democratic election, it should not be difficult for the first democracy in the Middle East to do the same, at this point. We feel the first and safest step towards such goal is to establish a mechanism for absentee balloting, which will also help increase the percentage of participating voters in general. We therefore urge, as a minimum, to make sure that a secure mechanism of absentee voting is included in the new electoral law.

Further, ALF wishes to share with the Commission its firm belief that the smaller the electoral district, the more representative will be the elected deputies, and individual districts may represent the best choice. An attempt by the National Block Party at such individual district plan demonstrated that such plan is possible within the current Lebanese confessional system. The Commission could consider a similar plan with appropriate modifications to satisfy the largest majority of Lebanese, since it is not possible to produce a plan that will satisfy everybody. However, if for reasons beyond control, larger districts have to be adopted, a relativity based law should be considered, if it can be effectively adapted so that it will remain fair within the current confessional system. Even in such case the electoral district should be no larger than the Qaza or a redesigned smaller Mohafaza. If the consensus goes in this direction, we hope the law will be passed as soon as possible, so that there will be sufficient time for the Lebanese population to understand the system and get prepared to utilize it effectively.


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