INEC identifies the balanced distribution of voters in polling stations as a priority project

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From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced that a balanced distribution of voters at polling stations will be its priority project in the 2023 general elections.

The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the revelation in his remarks during a meeting with the European Union (EU) Election Monitoring Mission in Abuja on Wednesday.

“Immediately following the 2019 general elections, we undertook a comprehensive review of election observation reports by accredited domestic and international observers. Beyond this, we conducted our own internal review involving our regular and ad hoc officials and then expanded it to include political parties, civil society organizations, security agencies, media.

“From the review, we identified 178 recommendations. We then categorized them into three areas for implementation. We have moved forward to implement many of the recommendations that require administrative action by the Commission.

“Shortly after its promulgation, the Commission released the Calendar and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election, which contains 14 activities of which two have already been implemented. This involves the publication of the notice of election and the provision of application forms on a portal dedicated to downloading by political parties.

“With regard to the 2019 general elections, the EU observation mission made 30 recommendations, 11 of which directly concern the electoral commission. Three of them have been identified as priority recommendations while 8 are classified as general.

“The priority recommendations include improving the organizational and operational capacity of the Commission as well as the management of election results, in particular the availability and public access to results from polling stations and collection centers.

“Since 2019, we have made progress, notably with the creation of a new Gender and Inclusion department as well as the Litigation and Prosecution department. Likewise, we expanded voter access to polling stations for the first time in 25 years by converting the 56,872 former polling stations and polling stations (establishments) into polling stations and relocating some of them from congested places to unserved and underserved places, bringing the total number of voting units to 176,846.

“We have to admit that in many states we are struggling to achieve a more balanced distribution of voters at polling stations. However, it is a priority project for the Commission which will be carried out before the general elections of 2023,” he said.

Speaking further, Professor Yakubu said: “Obviously the greatest progress the Commission has made since 2019 is in deepening the deployment of technology in elections. INEC is the first electoral commission in West Africa, if not Africa as a whole, to upload polling station-level results to a portal in real time on Election Day.

“In addition, there are other portals to facilitate the nomination of candidates and the submission of the list of electoral agents by political parties and the accreditation of media, national and international observers.

“We have also made tremendous progress in the area of ​​voter accreditation through the rollout of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). We have carried out several pilots and despite the difficulties encountered in certain places, we are convinced of its effectiveness.

“During the six by-elections held last weekend in 4 states of the Federation, the system worked optimally in the rural, suburban and urban areas where the elections took place. We will continue to conduct more pilot tests of the BVAS and deploy the same device in the upcoming Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections and ultimately the 2023 general election,” he pledged.

Speaking earlier, the Head of the EU Observation Follow-up Mission, Chief Observer, Maria Arena and Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuel Isopi had praised the Commission for the conduct of the elections.

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