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EDITORIAL

Anambra election and electronic voting

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THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed November 6, 2021, for Anambra gubernatorial election.

 ALREADY, major political parties in the  Anambra polls  have held their primary elections, preparatory to the election. Therefore,  the stage is set for the guber  election.

  HOWEVER, it is understandable when an electoral umpire  seeks easier ways to carry out the process of  conducting elections. Hence, when INEC mulls commencing electronic voting, it wins many consents given that it would bring ease and more appropriate ways of collecting votes. Since pre-independence, elections had been conducted manually in the country. Citizens of Nigeria who have attained the age of 18 go to the polls as a  matter  of fulfilling civic obligations. Ahead the elections, citizens   engage in voter registration as vital  preparatory  exercise.

  THE Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has recently   announced the introduction of electronic voting for the 2021 Anambra governorship election. It is apt to ask:  What are the modalities for the electronic voting? How do citizens go about the on-going  voter registration exercise  amid the electronic voting uncertainty? How will people who  registered online   vote since Nigerians  are used to voting manually- using the ballot paper? How then will INEC design the online ballot paper? How   will these ballots  be collated? Will all the the vital preparations be ready for the Anambra election? If it will, when will INEC tell people to start voting? These and many more vexed issues cause keen observers and participants in the process sleepless nights currently.

  SINCE it’s a new experience,  there are some who worry whether INEC will  install electronic voting machines in all wards in the state. It’s imperative to know if the same device will allow the voters to cast their votes where they registered or be  applicable in other polling units than where one registered.

  INEC is therefore, expected to be on a frantic campaign  for awareness and to  assure citizens of their  ability to conduct credible election and to educate people on how to cast their votes as well as  how their votes would be collated.

  IF THESE cannot be done well before  November 6, we suggest that the Anambra election be spared of electronic voting so that vital provisions are made and the process is  perfected before it is used. It would not be fair  to the people of the state if their  electorate is used as Guinea Pig. More so, the unclear procedure can cause confusion if the modalities are not well spelt out months  before November 6.

  THERE is need for voter mobilisation and voter enlightenment effort hat extends beyond just telling people how to vote because it is arguable that  if people can still commit errors while using physical ballot paper after so many years , the level of  errors while   using the electronic voting  system is left to imagination.

  THEREFORE since INEC is using Anambra election to test-run the 2023 general election, National Light calls  on INEC to commence mobilisation, education  and enlightenment of  people and political parties on what is expected of them.

  ALSO,  INEC should ensure transparency, integrity of the electoral process and the likes as it is necessary to point out that the loopholes in our traditional voting system has been the reason for the exploitation of our electoral processes by partisan interests  and mischief- making  politicians.

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