The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has its sight set on new technology designed for easier collation and transmission of results.
Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu says INEC is determined this time around to consolidate on its use of technology for election rather than experimenting.
“This Commission will not experiment. It will rather consolidate. Technology has come to stay,” Yakubu told representatives of 30 political parties at a consultative session in Abuja.
“Not only will the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and the Smart Card Readers remain, we are going to go a step higher to see if we can also deploy technology for collation and transmission of results so that we make the processes between the conclusion of elections at the Polling Units, the counting and final tally at the Collation Centre speedy and more accurate and technology driven,” he said.
INEC also plans to disallow fresh voters from taking take part in court ordered governorship re-run polls in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia States as well as 79 other units across the country.
Only those who voted in the cancelled polls will participate in the re-run, The Nation gathered yesterday.
Yakubo told the party leaders: “While strengthening the Card Reader and the PVCs, which were innovations introduced in 2015, as we approach 2019, we shall move an inch higher by introducing technology in the processes of collation and transmission of results so that the processes will be faster and more accurate.
“New approaches are required to strengthen election management in the country and consequently consolidate our democracy further.
“We believe this can be best achieved by consultation with stakeholders and political parties are one of the most critical stakeholders.”
He assured the Political Parties of the continued neutrality of the Commission.
“We will remain an unbiased Election Management Body.
“All political parties have equal status with INEC,” he added.
Some of the pertinent issues the Commission sought the advice and input of the Political Parties included:
- Violence in the electoral process from campaign to voting and after voting;
- Inconclusiveness of elections;
- Spate of nullifications of elections arising from the 2015 general elections;
.Improvement in technology deployed for the 2015 elections and new innovations going forward; and
- Management of the voting process with regards to accreditation and voting.
INEC sources said that newly registered voters in the 82 districts and constituencies where bye elections are scheduled for this quarter will have to wait till 2019 or whenever there is a vacancy by reason of death.
It was gathered that the decision to bar newly registered voters from poll rerun was taken by the management to prevent rigging and litigations after poll re-run.
One source said: “As part of our preparation for poll re-run, only registered voters for the last general election will be allowed to vote.
“Those who have benefited from our Continuous Voters Registration exercise after the last general election will not take part.
“We took this decision to prevent rigging or recourse to inducement of eligible voters to register. We also do not want any distortion in the electoral process. This is a far- reaching measure to avoid litigations.
“Any candidate or politician mobilising his or her supporters to register for poll re-run is joking.”
Professor Yakubu said during the week that 82 Appeal Court-ordered elections will be conducted by INEC in the first quarter of this year.
“The first quarter of this year will be a mini general election. That is why this meeting is even more urgent so that we can discuss issues surrounding the conduct of elections so that we can have seamless, effective and conclusive processes.
“We need to put our hands together with RECs and other stakeholders to see how we respond immediately to the decisions of the courts to conduct these elections because we have a maximum of 90 days within which to do so”.