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COVID-19: INEC mulls e-voting for Anambra guber 2021

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INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed that it will deploy Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) for full scale use of e-voting in conducting elections in Nigeria starting from 2021.

  Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed the policy in a release he issued yesterday, saying the choice was predicated on challenges imposed by coronavirus pandemic.

  This brings Anambra state governorship election, which is one of the major election coming up next year, in direct first case.

  According to INEC, rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections, especially in consideration of the Supreme Court position that votes belong primarily to political parties, it will engage with the legislature and other stakeholders to explore ways of seamless implementation.

The release further stated that as part of the measure to mitigate the dangers of conducting elections during the pandemic, INEC will introduce several health procedures to protect electoral officers, observers and voters before, during and after conduct of any election as well as involvement of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and voter registration.

“The Commission recognizes the critical role that ICT will play in an electoral process vastly reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the growing demands by Nigerians for the deepening of the use of technology in our elections. Consequently, the Commission shall continue to apply relevant, value-for-money technology in all aspects of the electoral process and election management.

Regularly validate and clean up the biometric Register of Voters by removing multiple registrants and deceased persons. Suspend the Continuous Registration of Voters (CVR) for the time being to prevent the health risks associated with it in the context of COVID-19. Continue to make available its electronic channels for voters to check their registration status.

Pilot the use of Electronic Voting Machines at the earliest possible time (not Edo and Ondo), but work towards the full introduction of electronic voting in major elections starting from 2021,” it noted,” it noted.

“As already announced, the dates for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States remain September 19, 2020 and October 10, 2020, respectively. Dates for the four postponed bye-elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Plateau States, as well as other bye-elections that become due during the COVID-19 pandemic will be announced by the Commission following its established procedures.

The Commission will engage with the legislature and other stakeholders to explore ways of responding to the rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections, especially in consideration of the Supreme Court position that votes belong primarily to political parties, as well as the Commission’s records, which show that only in 10 per cent of all bye-elections since 2015 did the party that won originally lose the election.

The Commission will engage relevant authorities, including the legislature, to designate election as an essential service to enable the Commission function effectively in times of national emergency,” the statement emphasised.

INEC also promised to ensure general protective measures, infrared thermometers will be supplied and used at the registration areas and collation centres, local government area and state collation centres with use of face masks made mandatory for all involved in the election process and must be worn at all election locations.

It equally said it will provide face masks for all election officials. Alcohol based hand sanitisers will be provided for election officials at the polling units.

Methylated Spirit and cotton wool will be provided for the disinfection of the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) after the fingerprint of each voter is read. The rules of physical distancing shall be enforced at all election activities including stakeholder engagements, training, queuing at Polling Units, etc.

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