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INEC, NOA, others move against voided votes


With less than one month to this year’s general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has challenged political parties and other stakeholders to avoid actions that could thwart the electoral process before, during and after the polls open.

The Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Emmanuel Alex-Hart, who handed out the caution, disclosed that 26 political parties would be participating actively in the election in the state.

The REC tasked stakeholders on the need to intensify effort to ensure that the elections turned out conclusive, saying, “the 2019 general elections is 25 days from now, let’s drive the message home so that the consequences of voided votes can be avoided.”Represented by the head of voter education in the state, Wilfred Ifowga, Alex-Hart spoke during a sensitisation programme organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for South-south geo-political zone in Benin City.

While explaining that the enlightenment programme was targeted at stamping out issues of voided votes, the REC said that although INEC has 91 registered political parties in the country, “only 26 out of the number are active in the state.”He pointed out that since not all the political parties have fielded candidates for the presidential election, the ballot papers would not be too long, thereby helping to avoid voided votes.

The REC stated: “A careful study has shown that the high number of voided votes recorded during previous elections could be attributed to poor voter enlightenment. “After the findings, the commission stepped up its voter education effort by engaging all stakeholders in ensuring every vote count and the number of voided votes is reduced.

“One vote can help produce the necessary margin for a winner and can also make a candidate lose an election or even for a re-run.” Earlier, the Acting Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA) in the state, Grace Eseka, tasked the stakeholders on their role of ensuring a peaceful election in the state.
She explained that the essence of programme was to enlighten the electorate on how to ensure their votes count and reduce incidences of voided votes, adding: “The number of voided votes in the past is of worrisome concern and has to be reduced to the barest minimum.

“This voter education programme is taking place in the six geo-political zone and local government area nationwide and I urge you to take this national discourse seriously.”She added that the agency would continue to educate the electorate on the various symbols of all the registered political parties and how best to thumbprint in order to minimise the incidences of voided votes.

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