Elections 2015: Voting Guidelines
Step 1: Accreditation
Go to the Polling Unit you were registered with your voter registration card (Permanent Voter Card, PVC). On arrival, he/she joins the queue. Where culture disallows men and women mingling on a queue, the PO will create separate queues for men and women. At his/her turn, the voter will present his/her voter card to the Presiding Officer (PO), who will carry out the process of verification, identification and authentication, using the card reader.
The card reader will prop up the bio-data of the voter, including his/her picture and fingerprints. If the voter card is genuine, the voter would be passed on to the next stage. If not, the possessor of the voter card would be asked to leave the polling station immediately or face forceful removal by security agents or arrest.
Step 2: Present your voter registration card (PVC) to the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) official and ensure that your name is on the register. If the card reader authenticates the voter as having an authentic voter card, he/she will be taken through the next step of biometric exercise to confirm that the person with the valid PVC actually owns the card. This involves placing either the index finger or thumb at the top of the card reader for the purpose of matching the fingerprint with the one embedded in the PVC. He/she is then certified for voting. If not, based on the judgment of the PO, the person would be passed on to the next stage of voting, but note will be taken of such cases in an incident form available at the station. All accredited voters will be given a number, based on when they were accredited.
Step 3: Your finger would be marked with ink to show that you have been accredited. At the end of accreditation officially by 1pm, voting will begin and the supervisory PO and his assistants will then arrange the voters in an orderly manner, beginning from the first person to arrive the voting area.
Step 4: Voting The voter will mention the number given to him during the accreditation and this will guide the PO to check through the INEC Register to cross-check that it was still the same person that was accredited that has turned up to vote.
Step 5: If confirmed that it is the same person accredited earlier, the PO will issue him (three) ballot papers (Presidential- red; Senate- black; and House of Representatives- green) to go and exercise his/her franchise.
Step 6: Three ballot boxes would be provided each for the three elections customised in line with the ballot papers. The voter will cast his/her ballot in respect of the ballot paper.
Step 7: After the last voter on the queue would have cast his/her ballots, the PO will begin with the process of sorting of the ballots from the three ballot boxes and dropped in their rightful places.
Step 8: The voter is expected to wait, if he/she likes, for the counting and announcement of the results and must conduct him/herself in an orderly and peaceful manner. Any voter is free to leave the scene, if he/she chooses.
Step 9: At the end of the counting, the PO would announce the results at the polling station and place the results in a conspicuous place around the station. Chairman of the INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, on Tuesday, further explained the processes and procedures for the elections, as well as the processes of releasing the results during the polls by the presiding officers.
At a Stakeholders’ Summit with political parties, Jega stated that accreditation of voters would take place from 8a.m. till the last person to join the queue at 1p.m. is accredited. Voting would commence at 1.30pm and would end when the last person on the queue has voted.
He stressed that only persons with PVCs would be accredited, using the Card Reader. He said each political party is entitled to an agent at the polling station, who must be properly accredited in accordance with the regulations and guidelines. “On March 28, three ballot boxes will be used in each of the polling/voting points.
Ballot boxes with red cover are for putting a thumb printing ballot paper by a voter for the presidential election. “Ballot box with a black cover is for putting thumb printing ballot paper by a voter for the senatorial election. “The green ballot box is for putting thumb printed ballot paper by a voter for the House of Representatives.
“Each ballot paper has corresponding colour stripes to assist voters in putting the right ballot paper in the right ballot box. “For each polling/voting point, there is a designated official, called overseer, whose primary job is to ensure that voters put the right ballot paper into the right ballot box. “Political parties need to factor this into their campaigns to minimise putting the ballot paper into the wrong ballot box.
” As a result, he said there shall be two sorting of voting at the polling units meant to ensure that any wrongly placed ballot papers are removed and put back into the right ballot boxes and the second is meant to determine the votes cast by voters for a political party/candidate. According to Jega:
“At the end of the sorting and counting of the ballot papers, the results are to be announced to the hearing of all and a result poster is to be completed and pasted at the polling units. “Copies of the result sheets are to be given to a accredited party agents, who are present, while the original is to be conveyed to the ward level coalition centre by the presiding officer, accompanied by the security agents and the party agents.
“At the ward level collation centre, if there are complaints and/or evidence of alteration of accreditation figures on the result sheets, the information on accreditation saved on the card readers used would be used by the collation officer to decide on the case.” Jega further explained that hard copies of result sheets from the polling units would be scanned, converted to PDF format and put in a database, which would be made accessible for viewing and download via the INEC website to ensure the accuracy of the collated results.
According to INEC rules, no person shall be allowed to vote at any Polling Unit other than where he/she had registered and was duly accredited. At the end of accreditation at 1pm or until the last person on the queue before 1 pm is accredited, voting commences at 1:30 pm or whenever the accreditation process ends.
The Presiding Officer, after setting up the Polling Unit layout in the approved manner, shall explain the voting procedure to the voters by informing them that the voting process is about to begin. He/she is expected to remind the people that the voting in the unit is for only those that registered there and had been accredited.
He/she will equally educate the voters on what they should be issued with, including a stamped, signed and dated ballot paper, because if any of these is mistakenly omitted, the person’s vote would be rejected and would not count. When casting the vote, it is important that the voter thumbprints in only one box- the box of his or her chosen party.
Also, a ballot paper folded vertically inward would be given to the voter, which the voter must fold in the same manner after thumb printing, and place in the ballot box to ensure that the thumbprint does not smear on another party and render the vote invalid. The voter must also be very careful not to write anything or make any other mark on the ballot, except for his or her thumbprint, as anything to the contrary will invalidate the vote.
The presiding officer, while maintaining the first come, first served order, should, however, give priority to the physically challenged persons, nursing mothers and the elderly, who cannot stay long on the queue. In addition, he/she must check the cuticle of the appropriate finger/thumb-nail of the voter to confirm that he/she has been accredited and received the number tag for easy location of voter’s name on the Register.
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