INEC Begins Electronic Voting 2021

By Musa Sunusi Ahmad

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that electronic voting would be introduced in off-season elections starting in 2021 and not the Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections.

Also, the commission said that all intending voters and election officials must wear facemasks in the Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections adding that it will work with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in it new election budget template to reflect the likely impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the funding profile of electoral activities.

INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu stated this in the latest policy on conducting elections in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

INEC said: “We are eveloping a new election budget template to reflect the likely impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
on the funding profile of electoral
activities.”

The commission said it will constantly re-evaluate planned
electoral activities in the light of
COVID-19 and the health risks
it poses for voters, stakeholders
and staff during elections, and
implement mitigating measures
in consultation with health experts, insisting it was the reason it suspended the Continue Voter Registration (CVR)

“The Commission will engage
immediately with NYSC
and INEC State Offices to
evolve modalities for corps
members to serve as ad hoc
staff in elections during the
pandemic. The Commission’s
State offices will commence
identification of alternative
sources of ad hoc staff in line
with Commission policy, in
case there are shortfalls adding that it will also ensure the use of electronic in the electoral process,” INEC said.

On transportation, INEC said election
staff shall comply with COVID-19 containment protocols adding that there shall be a reduction in the number of passengers per vehicle on election
day from 14 to 7 for buses, and from 12 to six for boats.

“Motorcycles and tricycles must be used sparingly with one passenger per motorcycle and two per tricycle. All passengers and drivers must wear face masks and it shall be mandatory
and the responsibility of vehicle owners to provide hand sanitizers for occupants
of their vehicles” the policy said.

INEC also said that it’s state offices shall conduct a thorough assessment of RACs to determine their suitability
for elections adding that where there is insufficient space in a RAC and no suitable alternative facility is available
for a Super RAC option,
canopies may be deployed
outdoors to increase the
available area for use.

“In the establishment of voting points, in order to reduce the number of points in a polling unit to be monitored and controlled for COVID-19 compliance, the
threshold for voting points shall
be increased from 500/750 to
1,000/1,250.

INEC said it will create e-platforms in accreditation of observer groups
and deployment of their field
observers, submission of nomination
forms by political parties for
candidates, tracking and reporting of
campaigns and campaign
finance by/for Candidates and
political parties.

Other activities to be done online according to the new policy includes: submission of party agents lists by political parties, engagement with stakeholders – consultative meeting with political party leaders and
briefing of observers adding that where the guidelines and
regulations are in conflict with
the constitutions of political
parties and the commissions’
regulations and guidelines for
the conduct of political party
Primaries, 2018, the Commission
shall draw the attention of the
political party to the discrepancy.

INEC said it shall provide
access codes to be issued to
National Chairmen and National
Secretaries of political parties for
the submission of names and
particulars of their candidates for
various elections adding that particulars of candidates will be pasted in hard copies at the Commission’s State offices and also published online.

On briefing and debriefing of eection observers INEC said it will combine physical and online briefings for observers.

“However, whenever the former is adopted, all the protocols for COVID-19
prevention shall be strictly followed,” INEC said adding that it will reassess existing security threats across the states and the implications of COVID-19, develop locally focused plans for election security deployments.

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