The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed the process it will adopt for voting in the 2019 general elections.
A national commissioner of the commission, Festus Okoye, made the disclosure on Wednesday while speaking to journalists at a two-day election workshop at the U.S embassy in Abuja.
Mr Okoye, who is also the Chairman of Information and Voter Education in the commission, spoke on INEC’s expectations from the media as regards coverage of elections and reporting of results.
He said the voting procedure will be in accordance with the Continuous Accreditation and Voting System (CAVS) and only voters with permanent voter’s cards verified by the smart card reader would be allowed to vote.
“Each voter shall cast his/her vote in person at the polling unit that he/she registered and, in the manner, prescribed by the Commission.
“For the purposes of the conduct of elections, the Commission utilizes both permanent and ad-hoc staff. The ad-hoc staff comprises of Presiding Officersn (PO), Assistant Presiding Officers (APO), Supervisors, Collation Officers and Returning Officers.
“The Presiding Officer shall be responsible for regulating the admission of voters to the polling unit and shall exclude all other persons except candidates or their polling agents, election officials, security personnel, accredited observers and any other person who in his opinion has lawful reason to be admitted and attendance Register in Polling Unit booklet will be signed by these categories of election personnel,” he said.
Mr Okoye stated those who will be allowed access to the electoral material distribution centre, polling units, polling stations and collation centres.
These are “the voters (at polling units only), INEC officials on election duty, security personnel, candidates or their accredited party agents, accredited journalists/media and accredited domestic and foreign observers.
“The accreditation process shall comprise Verification by the Smart Card Reader; Checking of the Register of Voters; and inking of the cuticle of the specified finger. Where the voter’s fingerprint is not authenticated after 4 attempts using the SCR, the APOI shall recapture the fingerprint of the voter in the prescribed manner and continue with the accreditation and voting process.
“Where the voter authentication fails after recapture, the APO shall refer the voter to the Presiding Officer who shall examine and ascertain if the PVC belongs to the voter and if satisfied, that it belongs to the voter and that the voter has not been previously verified, direct the voter to the APOII for Register check and inking to continue with other accreditation and voting process.”
Mr Okoye also said accredited media organisations and observers will be allowed into the polling units, collation centres and distribution centres.
“However, it is not permissible to violate the secrecy of the vote by attempting to record how a voter is voting or how the voter has voted. Section 125 of the Electoral Act.
“The media are allowed or permitted to record and use the votes scores by each political party as pasted in the Publication of Result Poster EC60(E). The media and accredited observers are not allowed or permitted to make a declaration or announce results of an election as that is legally reserved for the Returning Officer who makes a declaration and a return.
“By section 123(4) of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) any person who announces or publishes an election result knowing same to be false or which is at variance with the signed certificate of return commits an offence and is liable on conviction to 36 months’ imprisonment,” he said.
Further guidelines are:
At the close of voting, the PO shall:
-Cancel all the unused ballot papers by crossing them.
-Sort out the ballot papers by party and thereafter loudly count the votes scored by each political party in the presence of the polling agents and observers.
-Cross-check the scores according to the prescribed procedure.
-Enter the scores of the candidates in both figures and words in the appropriate forms EC8A/ EC8A(VP) series.
Where voting points have been created the APO shall:
-Enter the result on form EC8A (VP).
-Submit to the presiding officer who shall consolidate the result using form EC8A and attach the EC8A(VP) to form EC8A.
The Presiding Officer shall then:
-Sign, date and stamp the appropriate EC8A forms;
-Announce loudly the votes scored by each political party;
-Request the candidates or their polling agents where available at the polling unit to countersign;
-Keep the originals of EC8 series and the first pink copies for the Commission;
-Give to the party agents and the Police, a duplicate copy each of the completed forms;
-Post the completed Publication of Result Poster EC60(E) at the polling unit;
-Complete the EC40H(1) for PWD Information and Statistics;
-Complete the PWD information boxes in the PU booklet;
-Electronically transmit the result in the prescribed manner;
-Take the card reader and the original copy of the forms in tamper-evidence envelope to the Registration Area/Ward Collation Officer, in the company of security agents.
The polling agents may accompany the Presiding Officer to RA/Ward Collation Centre as stipulated in Sections 62-67 of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended)
Where the total number of votes cast at a polling unit exceeds the number of registered voters in the polling unit, the result of the election for that polling unit shall be declared null and void, and a report in that regard is made to the Collation Officer.
Similarly, where the total number of votes cast at a polling unit exceeds the total number of accredited voters, the outcome of the election shall be declared null and void, and a report in that regard is made to the Collation officer.
The collation and declaration of election results shall be done at the following levels depending on the type of election:
-Registration Area – RA/Ward (collation for all election) including that of Councilor in the case of the FCT.
-Local Government Area – LGA (Collation for all election) including that of Chairman in the case of the FCT.
-State Constituency (Collation and Declaration of State House of Assembly elections).
-Federal Constituency (Collation and Declaration of House of Representative elections)
-Senatorial District (Collation and declaration of Senatorial District elections)
-Governorship (Collation and Declaration of Governorship elections)
-Presidential (Collation and Declaration of Presidential election) as stipulated in Section 27 of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended).
While the announcement of results is made at the Polling Units by the Presiding Officer, the Ward Collation Officer announces the Results at the Ward Collation Centre and the Local Government or Area Council Collation Officer announces the result at the Local Government or Area Council Collation Centre.
By section 63 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) what the Presiding Officer does is to count and announce the result at the polling unit. The Presiding Officer does not make a declaration and does not make a return.
Section 69 and 70 of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) gives the appropriate Returning Officer the exclusive right and jurisdiction to make a return in an election to the office of the President or Governor whether or not contested.