Prof-yakubu-mahmood-INEC-chairman

COVID-19: INEC to Commence E-Voting in 2021

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will adopt electronic platforms for the submission of nomination forms by political parties in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

INEC said this in its new policy on conducting elections released amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the policy document signed by Mahmood Yakubu, its chairman, INEC said during the elections in Edo and Ondo scheduled for September and October, face masks would be made compulsory for voters, electoral officials and everyone else at all election locations.

It said the polling unit areas shall be redesigned to ensure substantial compliance with established protocols such as social distancing.

“In order to accommodate additional activities in setting up the PU due to COVID-19, polls shall now commence at 8.30 am and close at 2.30 pm,” the commission said, adding that personal protective equipment and other safety materials shall be provided for polling staff.

It said infrared thermometers will be used at the various collation centres, alcohol-based hand sanitisers at the polling units for election officials while methylated spirit and cotton wool will be provided for the disinfection of the smart card readers after the fingerprint of each voter is read.

INEC also said it would not only pilot the use of e-voting machines at the earliest possible time after the forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections, but will also “work towards the full introduction of electronic voting in major elections starting from 2021.”

The commission added that it would regularly clean up the biometric register of voters while continuous voter registration is suspended “for the time being to prevent the health risks associated with it in the context of COVID-19.”

INEC also said it would pilot e-voting in 2021. There have been calls for electronic voting over the years but some concerns, including the fear of cybercrime, hampered the process.

An electoral act amendment bill seeking to make e-voting compulsory in elections, however, passed for second reading at the senate in November.

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