Are you 18 years and above? Have you registered to vote in the coming election? Do you have your Permanent Voters Card and are you prepared to vote this Saturday 25th day of February 2023?
It is the civic responsibility of every citizen to be involved in electing the country’s leaders. As we all know, this is what election is all about and there cannot be election without voters. However, it is proper that everyone understands the procedure laid out for Saturday to make the exercise smooth and credible.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, voting in the Presidential and National Assembly Election coming up this Saturday, as well as the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Election Saturday 11th March, 2023 will commence at 8:30am and end at 2:30pm. However, voters on the queue on or before 2:30pm will be allowed to vote.
Those who are eligible to vote must be Nigerians, who are18 years and above. They must also be registered to vote, be in possession of the Permanent Voter’s Card, PVC and must appear in person at the polling unit.
A registered voter will cast his or her ballot in the polling unit where their name is enlisted in the Register of Voters. Only those with their PVC and that are authenticated using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS device (fingerprint or facial recognition) shall be allowed to vote. INEC says, “NO PVC, NO VOTING!”
BVAS is an electronic machine which is used for voter verification and authentication to confirm the identity of a voter using either their fingerprints or face. The BVAS and/or any other electronic device INEC uses at elections has been backed by the Electoral Act 2022. It ensures that only persons eligible to vote and in possession of their PVCs and whose names are on the register of voters of a particular polling unit are allowed to vote at that polling unit and to only vote once.
The differences between BVAS and the Smart Card Reader, SCR, previously used by INEC is that BVAS verifies and accredits voter using either their fingerprints or their face, eliminating failure to accredit eligible voter. Details of voters are stored on the BVAS and not on the PVC as was the case with SCR.
BVAS is used as INEC Voter Enrolment Device, IVED, during voters’ registration and for uploading election results to the INEC Results viewing Portal, IReV. The BVAS automatically updates itself as accreditation takes place hence, the figures cannot be manipulated.
INEC’s procedure for accreditation and voting shows that Polling Units will open at 8:30am and close at 2:30pm or when the last person on the queue on or before 2:30pm has voted. This means that all eligible voters on queue as at 2:30pm will be allowed to vote. BVAS) shall be used to verify the voter as the valid owner of the PVC in their possession and that their name is on the Register of Voters in that polling unit. The device will match fingerprints and (or) face; one of which must successfully identify the person as the owner of the PVC presented to the official before they will be allowed to vote. If the BVAS fails to recognise the fingerprint, the facial recognition function of BVAS will be used to verify and accredit the voter.
After the above steps are successfully completed, a poll official will check for the name in the Register of Voters and tick it. Indelible ink will be applied on the cuticle of the finger and a stamped, signed and dated ballot paper will be issued to the voter. If the BVAS fails to recognise fingerprints as well as facial photograph, the person will not be allowed to vote.
To cast ballot, the voter will go to the voting cubicle to mark their choice on the ballot paper in secret. He or she must ensure the ink does not smear other parts of the ballot paper to avoid the vote being rejected. Then, the ballot paper should be folded vertically. No one is allowed to take photograph of the ballot paper when in the voting cubicle.
After marking the choice on the ballot paper, the voter drops the marked ballot paper into the ballot box in full view of all present. Also, after casting the ballot, the voter is free to remain 300 metres from the polling area to witness sorting, counting and announcement of result, provided they are orderly and do not disrupt the process.
Collation and announcement of results shall be done at various levels depending on the type of election, after which it is announced by INEC. In order to enhance transparency, INEC says it is providing an online results viewing portal called IReV (www.inecelectionsresults.ng) where persons can view results of all polling units in real time before they are declared at the end of the election by INEC.
It is good to acquaint ourselves with these procedures and follow on action so that there is no misunderstanding and the election should the free, fair and credible exercise that all Nigerians and indeed the whole world expect.