The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is to pilot the use of electronic voting machines at the earliest time possible towards full introduction of electronic voting in major elections in 2021.
The commission disclosed this in a policy document titled “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic” signed by INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, officially released on Monday.
The commission, however, clarified that such pilot scheme would not be used for Edo and Ondo governorship elections scheduled for Sept. 19 and Oct. 10, respectively.
Yakubu also disclosed the decision to suspend the Continuous Registration of Voters (CVR) for the time being is to prevent the health risks associated with it in the context of COVID-19.
He stressed on the need to continue to make available INEC’s electronic channels for voters to check their registration status.
“The Commission recognises the critical role that ICT will play in an electoral process that is being vastly reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the growing demands by Nigerians for the deepening of the use of technology in our elections.
“Consequently, the Commission shall continue to apply relevant, value-for-money technology in all aspects of the electoral process and election management,” he said.
According to Yakubu, the policy also includes the creation of e-platforms for certain INEC activities, including accreditation of observer groups and deployment of their field observers.
He said activities to be conducted online also include submission of nomination forms by political parties for candidates, tracking and reporting of campaigns and campaign finance by/for candidates and political parties.
Others include submission of party agents lists by political parties, adding that in accreditation and deployment of observers, the Commission shall request and receive applications for election observation exclusively online.
“Reduce the number of accredited observer groups based on past performance and compliance with Commission’s guidelines for election observation.
“This is to reduce crowding and therefore health risks at election venues. Reduce the number of field observers,” he said.